Buttery Leek & Potato Soup

This was the first soup recipe I ever learnt to make, and it showed me that soup is incredibly easy, cheap and healthy. Give it a go and you’ll be hooked – what’s not to like?

2 large potatoes
4 fat leeks
1 onion
A couple of pints of chicken stock
Salt and black pepper
A couple of generous knobs of butter
Olive oil

Serves 3-4.

This recipe turns out best when you make it nice and slow, so start about an hour before you want to serve up, if you can. First of all, peel and dice the onion, and get it sizzling in a good deep pan with a generous knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Slice the leeks and give them a quick rinse in a sieve (there’s often a bit of dirt trapped in between the layers – but at least that shows they’re real vegetables from a real field!) and then add those once the onions have started to turn golden. Finally, peel the potatoes and chop into rough chunks, and add them to the pan. At this point, you’ll probably need to add a bit more butter and perhaps another drizzle of olive oil too – you want to keep the vegetables nice and moist. Stir gently until the potatoes start to turn a little fluffy on the outside, and the leeks and onion become soft and golden.

Boil the kettle and make up a couple of pints of chicken stock – my jug holds one pint, so I tend to make that, put it in, and then make up more if needed. You want the liquid to cover the vegetables, so you’ll have to use your judgement as to how much you need. Season really well, then put the lid on and leave the whole thing to bubble for about three quarters of an hour.

When you’re ready, test the potatoes with a fork to make sure that they’re cooked – they should fall apart easily when prodded. Take the pan off the heat and blend until smooth – I use my hand blender for this, because it means you can keep it in the same pan, and there’s just less faffing about.

Put the pan back on the heat and have a taste – you might find at this point that you need more salt, since it will help punch up the rich, buttery flavour of the leeks. Finally, if you want to make the whole thing really luxurious, add a good dollop of crème fraiche or cream – I only tend to do this if I have some hanging about in the fridge, but it does make the whole thing fabulously rich.

Serve with your favourite cheese and some nice bread – why not try some of those lovely rolls you can buy part-baked and then finish off in the oven. Perfect for warming up on a cold, damp day!