Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Beautiful Leek & Potato Soup

Beautiful soup, so rich and green, waiting in a hot tureen…
Who for such dainties would not stoop? 
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup! 

When I was first learning my way around the kitchen as an adolescent vegetarian, my go-to resources were venerable classics like The Vegetarian Epicure and The Moosewood Cookbook. Both were textbook examples of the hippie vegetarian cookbook: filled with doodles, line drawings, and informally chatty recipes for hearty soups, stews, and casseroles. They also featured lots of eggs and dairy; in memory it seems like everything I cooked contained cheese and/or butter, and a shocking number of quiches were consumed.

Back in those days, Mollie Katzen's Potato Leek Soup was in regular rotation; I happily recall making it in my very first apartment with my then-future husband, sipping cheap wine and (almost) feeling like a Real Grown-Up. Nowadays, veganizing old favorites is a diverting pastime and Real Grown-Up Work Procrastination technique, so I recently dug out my ancient copy of The Enchanted Broccoli Forest - winner of the "Hippiest Cookbook Title of All Time" award - to revisit this beloved standby.

Unsurprisingly, the original recipe calls for cow's milk and half a stick of butter, for which I substituted a combination of bouillon, unsweetened soy milk, and a little olive oil, respectively. Since Mollie was as sparing with vegetables and seasonings as she was profligate with effluvia, I increased those elements, which gives the soup its lovely color.

The finished product was an unqualified success that will satisfy the most nostalgic of hippie food cravings. Add some bread, a green salad with tahini dressing, and a glass of that cheap wine, you'll have a meal true to the spirit (if not the letter) of those cherished, dog-eared, tamari-splattered cookbooks of yesteryear.

Beautiful Leek & Potato Soup
~ 3 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk 
~ 3 cups water
~ 2 tbsp. "no chicken" bouillon
~ 2-3 bay leaves
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 large yellow onion, chopped
~ 2 large leeks, cleaned and chopped (about 3-4 cups)
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 2 stalks celery, diced
~ 2 large carrots, chopped
~ 4-5 large Yukon Gold potatoes (Mollie says "fist-sized"), cubed
~ 1 tsp. each: marjoram, dill, thyme, rosemary
~ ¼-½ tsp. cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
~ Dash nutmeg
~ A few healthy grinds fresh black pepper
~ 1/2 cup white wine
~ 3/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley

~ Combine the soy milk, water, bouillon, and bay leaves and bring nearly to a boil. Cover and set aside.
~ In a large, deep pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and leeks; sauté about 2-3 minutes.
~ Add the garlic and seasonings (except the fresh parsley); cook another few minutes.
~ Add the celery, carrots, potatoes, and wine; cook 5-7 minutes more.
~ Add the soy milk/bouillon mixture to the pot, cover, and bring briefly to a boil.
~ Lower the heat to simmer and cook another 25-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
~ Remove the bay leaves, stir in the fresh parsley, and allow to cool briefly.
~ Transfer to a food processor and blend in batches or puree with an immersion blender. You can add a bit more water if it seems too thick.
~ Return to heat, being careful not to boil; taste for seasoning (I find the bouillon sufficiently salty, but your mileage may vary) and serve hot.


  1. That soup looks lovely!

    Here's to tamari splattered cookbooks of yesteryear. I actually pulled out my very first tofu recipe to do for VeganMoFo.

    I like the way you think!

  2. Yum! I LOVE potato-leek soup! I want it right now, it's a drizzly day here.

    Happy MoFo!

  3. and I just got me some leeks from the farmers market!

  4. Those were my first two vegetarian cookbooks! I spent a week during last year's VeganMoFo veganizing recipes out of 'the vegetarian epicure'.