Lovely leek and potato soup
Leeks and potatoes are a match made in heaven. You’ll get more flavour if you buy leeks loose from a market stall rather than the squeaky clean pre-wrapped ones you find in supermarkets.
Time: about 25 minutes
Cost: about 60-75p a head
3 medium or 2 large leeks (choose ones with their green tops still intact)
1 tbsp light olive oil or sunflower oil
A thin slice of butter (about 20g)
2 small to medium potatoes (about 200-225g)
600ml hot stock made with 2 tsp Marigold vegetable bouillon powder or an organic vegetable stock cube
1/2 tsp fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried thyme (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parsley or grated cheese (e.g. Parmesan or Cheddar) to serve (optional)
Trim off any roots and about half the green tops off the leeks, removing any really tough leaves. Cut half way down each leek lengthways and open up the leeks under cold running water to remove any grit or soil. Cut the remaining part of the leek in two then cut into fine slices. Put them in a colander and rinse again.
Heat the oil in a medium to large saucepan over a moderate heat then add the butter. Wait till it melts, add the leeks and stir. Turn the heat down, cover with a lid or a piece of foil and cook over a low heat while you peel and finely slice the potatoes. Add the potatoes to the pan and the thyme if using, stir well then cover and leave to cook for another 5-6 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil then turn the heat down and leave to simmer until the vegetables are completely soft (about 15 minutes) Take the pan off the heat and mash with a potato masher or fork until you have a rough-textured soup. Check seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.
* You can dress the soup up a bit by adding some finely chopped parsley or make it more substantial by adding some finely shredded greens and/or some grated cheese such as Parmesan, Cheddar or Lancashire.