In this week’s focus on fresh produce, we’ll be taking a look at the versatile and tasty leek. Flavorful and pungent, leeks are similar to onions and garlic, though they look very different. They offer high nutritional content, like vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, and tons of fiber to help keep you full.
Leeks can seem daunting, with so many layers and sections. Just be sure to peel off the tougher green exterior, and use the lighter colored sections. To clean the leeks (there is grit and dirt within each layer thanks to how the leeks grow), simply slice and put in a bowl of cold water. If you move the leeks around with your hands, the dirt falls to the bottom of the ball, while the clean leeks stay floating. When you’re done cleaning them, just scoop out of the water and put on a dry towel or paper towel.
One of the most classic ways to use leeks is in a creamy and decadent potato and leek soup. Served cold, it’s known as a vichyssoise and uses inexpensive ingredients. I prefer it hot, however, and use healthy ingredients like Greek yogurt to lighten up the calories.
Potato and Leek Soup
1 large leek, sliced thin and cleaned
1 lb of peeled and diced potatoes (Russet or Yukon gold would work)
5 cups chicken stock
½ cup Greek yogurt
¼ tsp of fresh thyme
4 strips of bacon (can be omitted), diced
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced finely
¼ cup white wine
Add the bacon to a large pot or Dutch oven on medium high heat, rendering out the fat. When the bacon is crispy, remove and drain on paper towels. Add 1 tsp of olive oil to the bacon fat. If not using bacon, use 2 tsp of canola oil. When the oil is hot (shimmering), add the leeks and stir. After the leeks have been thoroughly coated in the hot oil, add the garlic, and turn the heat to medium. Season with salt and pepper, and add the thyme.
Continue to saute for about five minutes, or until the leeks have wilted. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and make sure you use a wooden spoon to scrub any bits off the bottom of the pan that may be stuck. Add the potatoes and stir until mixed well, then add chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, roughly 30 minutes.
Depending on how rustic and chunky you like the soup, use an immersion blender to puree directly in the pot. You can also use a food processor and puree in batches if you want it to be smooth. Stir in the Greek yogurt – feel free to use more if you’d like it to be extra creamy. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with bacon, or if you’re trying to be heart healthy, a sprinkle of fresh chopped herbs like parsley or thyme, and serve.
This budget-conscious meal is affordable and delicious, while also highlighting the nutritious and tasty leek. Other ways to use leek include a cheese and leek quiche, sausage and leek casserole, or a mushroom and leek bread pudding. What are some of your favorite ways to use leeks? Comment below!