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potato leek soup

January 16, 2010

When I originally started reading food blogs, my motivation seemed simple enough:  easy access to recipes made by “normal” people.  These recipes seemed more tangible, more attainable.  These blogs were like having an entire cooking library at one’s finger tips written by people who seemed closer to someone who wrote a cookbook.

Of course, after awhile, you begin to come back to blogs not just for the recipes, but for the people.  They make you laugh, they take great photos, they give you insight into life outside your world.  You almost feel like you know them.  Whatever the reason, you become hooked.

David Lebovitz’s blog is one of those for me.  While his recipes are fantastic, it’s his story telling that brings me back time and again.  I particularly love his ability to affectionately criticize the French Parisians.  He manages it in a way that only someone with a genuine love and appreciation for life in France could.

All that, just to get cross the point that this is his recipe.  And it’s good.  Quite good.  And really easy.  I made minor adjustments based on what I had on the cabinet, but I’ve included a link to the original as well.  This soup with a side salad made a perfect weekday dinner (and next day’s lunch for that matter).

The biggest difference to this recipe is that I used whey.  Odd and seemingly random, but earlier that week I made paneer (recipe to come soon enough) and according to quite a few sites whey was “liquid gold” to be used interchangeably with stock.  Waste not, want not, right?  I can’t say it was what made the soup, but it didn’t hurt, so if you have some whey just lying around–and really, let’s admit it, who doesn’t have whey just lying around?  Toss it in.

Potato Leek Soup
slightly adapted from David Lebovitz’s soup

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 leeks, washed and sliced
  • salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chile powder
  • 3 cups (.75l) water
  • 3 cups (.75l) whey
  • 1 1/4-pounds (600 g) potatoes, peeled and cubed (4 medium sized potatoes)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • black pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter or olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the sliced leeks and season with salt.
  3. Cook the leeks over moderate heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re completely soft and wilted.
  4. Add cumin and chile powder, and stir for about 30 seconds, cooking them with the leeks to release their flavors.
  5. Pour in the water and whey (or you can even sub in chicken or veggie stock), and add the potatoes and bay leaves.
  6. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender when poked with a sharp knife (15 to 30 minutes)
  7. Remove bay leaves and puree the soup seasoning with more salt if necessary (taste).
  8. If you use a standard blender (which I did), don’t fill more than half-way full and secure the lid, and cover it with a tea towel when blending, to avoid hot soup or steam for causing problems (this saved me from third-degree burns).
  9. Don’t use a food processor as that will make the potato purée gummy.
  10. Serve with a small dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche.
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