Potato Leek Soup

When Sadie was young, I embarked on that journey of homemade baby food that so many others have traveled before me. I had a brick of a book instructing me how to use ice cube trays in ways that I had never imagined, and I carried a mini food mill in my bag. I was in control and ready for success.

Unfortunately, Sadie and I were no good at this one. There were always congealed purees in my hair and on my clothes, and I grew to despise my mini food mill. Still, I persevered, terrified that I might screw up my child with less than perfect nourishment. I cranked everything through the mill, and Sadie spit it all out at me.

When Rosie popped her first tooth, the scene was very different. I had the comfort of knowing that I had not harmed my first child with some horrible parenting mistake, along with the chaos of two children under age two. She, too, hated the orange and green purees, and so when two-year-old Sadie insisted on feeding her sister whatever she was eating, I waved my hand in acceptance.

A few years later a delayed love for pureed vegetables kicked in. It was a rough winter, and we all seemed to need the simplicity of a bowl of smooth and creamy soup at least twice a week. The girls each developed a favorite that they still ask for regularly—potato leek for Sadie and roasted butternut squash for Rosie. When I have a surplus of ingredients, I whip up a quick batch of puree and freeze it in family dinner-size containers. A day ahead of time, the container goes in the fridge to thaw, and then making dinner is as easy as adding a bit of milk or cream to the puree and cutting a loaf of bread to dip in the soup. Sure, I’ve failed in the task of feeding my kids perfect and nutritious food on more occasions than I can count. But I hope a good bowl of soup emptied into a little belly on a regular basis will make up for it.

Potato Leek Soup

Makes 2 to 3 quarts (serves 8 to 10)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large leeks, cleaned and chopped, using all of the whites and the lower half of the green
2 pounds potatoes, peeled or unpeeled to taste, and quartered
5 to 7 cups stock, homemade or store-bought, or water
3/4 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Melt the butter and olive oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until soft and shiny, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the potatoes and 5 cups of the stock. Cover, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork.

3. Using an immersion blender, blend in pot until smooth; otherwise transfer to an upright blender and puree in batches. Blend for only a few seconds at a time—potatoes can transform to a glue texture with too much blending. If the soup is quite thick, add the additional stock, 1/2 cup at a time. If freezing the soup, do so now, before adding the milk.

4. To serve immediately, return the soup to the pot and add the milk, salt, and pepper. Reheat, if necessary.


Fridge in a covered container for 3 days.

Freezer (puree without the milk) for 6 months (thaw in refrigerator or microwave, reheat with milk, salt, and pepper, and blend if necessary for a smooth texture)

Homemade Pantry cookbook coverExcerpted from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila. Copyright © 2012 by Alana Chernila. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher.