Irish Potato and Leek Soup
Potatoes are strongly associated with Ireland, so I can see why this soup is generally attributed to the Irish. However, Wales has chosen the leek as its national emblem! (source) Then there are the Scottish who serve “tattie and leekie” soup. Furthermore, a French chef working in a prestigious American hotel broke tradition and served this soup cold, naming it Vichyssoise after the French town of Vichy. (source) For you Downton Abbey fans, this was the soup in question during Alfred’s test to become a chef!
At any rate, by whichever name you call it, this soup deserves a place in our “travels” to the British Isles. Tradition prescribes that the soup be served St. David’s Day (March 1st) as well as St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) – the patron saints of Wales and Ireland respectively. The legend goes that David, who chose to live so humbly that he only ate leeks and water (source), saved the Welsh army in a decisive battle by telling them to place leeks in their helmets to distinguish them from their enemy. The symbol is still worn on the lapel or in a hat today in Wales. St. Patrick is also said to have favored a variation on this soup containing oats. But there is also a story told in which Patrick cured a dying woman when he miraculously transformed rushes to leeks and fed them to her after she had seen them in a vision.
Both potatoes and leeks are featured heavily in foods hailing from the U.K. mainly because of the climate. The cool, damp weather limits the number of crops that can be grown, especially historically. But even today in your grocery store, you will likely see these cool weather crops on sale in February and March before the summer crops get going. This hearty soup is perfect for warming up on cooler spring days and a fun way to teach children (or learn yourself!) about St. David and St. Patrick. It even has a pretty green hue. Don’t forget to serve it with some crusty Irish Soda Bread!
Irish Potato and Leek Soup
Kim @ Onceamonthmeals.com
- 8 Tablespoons butter
- 1.25 cups onion, diced
- 2 cups leeks, sliced
- 2.25 cups Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
- 43.5 ounces chicken broth
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 0.25 teaspoons pepper
- 0.5 cups bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 cups shredded cheese
Heat a large lidded sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat and melt butter. Add leeks and onions and stir to coat. Cover and reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes. Add potatoes, cover and cook another 15 minutes. Stir in broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Puree in a blender (or food processor) in batches until smooth. Return soup to the pot and stir in bacon. Reheat over medium heat. Top each bowl with cheese and serve.
Prepare as per above directions, but do not reheat. Allow to cool completely. Divide soup among gallon freezer bags. Divide cheese among pint freezer bags and attach. Label and freeze. TO SERVE: Thaw. Reheat soup on stovetop for 8-10 minutes, until warmed through. Top each bowl with cheese and serve.
**conversion chart image provided by Erik Spiekermann