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August 30, 2010

Recipe for smashed potato and leek soup

Smashed potato and leek soup

For a few days last week, the weather here in New England turned New England-ish, evoking the Augusts I spent at summer camp when I was young. In the mountains of New Hampshire, we piled on the heavy blankets at night, and tromped off to breakfast in woolen pea coats (the fashion at that time) and shorts, our knees knocking from the cold. During the day, everything warmed up, but by dinner time the air had a hint of a chill, and the cook often made soup or some sort of mystery stew for dinner. This smashed potato and leek soup tastes (and looks) far better than camp fare, though its rustic style would have fit right in at the mess hall. Leave your immersion blender in the cupboard; unlike most leek-and-potato soups, this one isn't pureed. Quick to cook, the soup will keep for days in the refrigerator.

Smashed potato and leek soup

Serves 4; can be doubled.


2 large leeks
1 lb red-skinned new potatoes, washed but not peeled
2 strips bacon
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, plus a few extra for garnish
4 cups homemade chicken stock (or low-sodium store-bought broth)
Kosher salt, if needed (taste first; if you're using store-bought broth, you won't need salt)
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup milk (I use skim)


Trim the stem end and green parts of the leeks, and remove the outermost layer. Dice the remaining white part of the leeks into 1/4-inch pieces, and place in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with cool water, and agitate with your hand, swishing the leeks around to loosen the dirt. Then, set the bowl aside, and do not disturb it. The dirt will settle to the bottom, and the clean diced leeks will float on top.

Dice the potatoes into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces, and set aside.

In a small (3- or 4-quart) Dutch oven or heavy nonreactive saucepan with a lid, cook the bacon over low heat until semi-crisp but not brittle. Drain on paper towels, and set aside.

To the bacon fat in the pot, add the olive oil. Use a strainer to gently skim the leeks out of the water (don't stir up the water, as the dirt has settled on the bottom), and add them to the pot. Stir and cook for 2 minutes, until the leeks are translucent but not brown. Add the potatoes and thyme, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Then, add the stock. Turn heat to high, and bring the soup to a boil; then, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 25 minutes.

Taste, and add salt (if needed) and black pepper. With a wooden spoon, smash most of the potatoes against the side of the pot, leaving at least one-fourth of the potatoes in chunks. Stir in the milk, and crumble in 1-1/2 strips of bacon. Stir to combine, and taste again. Adjust the seasoning if needed.

Serve hot, garnishing each individual bowl with a bit of crumbled bacon and some thyme leaves.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Marcia | August 31, 2010 at 11:25 AM

Tandem posts...very clever.

I could smell the aroma of this divine soup wafting down the road.
great recipe.

I think I'd use more leeks though. Our friend Wayne has just started harvesting them.

Posted by: susan g | August 31, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Memories of camp: in the mountains of western Maryland, going swimming right after breakfast, trying to get into the water when it's like ice. Fast or slow? Brrr! Living in New Hampshire now I love the cool nights, cool mornings. Brings back the appetite and the will to cook -- wonderful soups!

Posted by: carol, boston | August 31, 2010 at 03:28 PM

Hello! - it is nice to come over here and visit - thanks for encouraging me!
I LOVE the fall weather of New England and I am so sad that the hot weather has returned for a week - but just maybe I will make this soup during the hurricane!

Posted by: Katie @ goodLife {eats} | September 1, 2010 at 08:37 AM

Saw this on foodgawker this morning and it has my tummy grumbling for a bowl of soup. I think I'll like this rustic, chunky style better than pureed leek and potato. I like something with some bite to it.

Posted by: Lydia | September 1, 2010 at 08:45 AM

Marcia, more leeks would be great. Just depends on the size of your leeks and how much you love the onion-y flavor. This soup is very flexible.

Susan, sounds like you had the same wonderful summer camp experience I did. I remember tennis practice right after breakfast; I'd start out hitting balls with my coat on, and eventually peel down to shorts and t-shirt as the sun came up.

Carol, if we do get grazed by the hurricane on Friday, it will be the perfect time to make this soup!

Katie, I really like this more rustic soup, too. The bacon makes it quite delicious.

Posted by: Melynda | September 1, 2010 at 08:50 AM

Love that it is a smaller batch of soup. Thanks, this will be made SOON!

Posted by: Carole | September 3, 2010 at 05:37 PM

That soup sounds great except for the milk. Got a suggestion for a substitute for the lactose intolerant? Thanks.

Posted by: Lydia | September 3, 2010 at 06:49 PM

Melynda, I hope you do make it. I love this soup.

Carole, just leave the milk out. The smashed potatoes will thicken the soup and the base is delicious with or without a bit of milk.

Posted by: Liane | September 5, 2010 at 11:01 PM

Made this tonight. This is definitely the best potato leek soup I've ever made. Yum! Thanks!

Posted by: Linda from NJ | October 31, 2010 at 11:07 AM

This looks really good. I was searching for a potato leek soup that wasn't creamed with a lot of cream in it and this popped up. Looks really good and I am looking forward to making this in a few hours. YUM!!

Posted by: Linda from NJ | October 31, 2010 at 06:41 PM

OMG! I made this soup tonight and it is amazing ... delicious ... wonderful ... my husband who never finishes anything ate his entire large bowl and raved the whole time how good this was. I agree!! I didn't add the milk and you don't miss it. This recipe is now in our soup rotation.
I did make homemade stock the night before.
Thank you for sharing a really great way to make potato leek soup.

Posted by: Lael Hazan @educatedpalate | November 9, 2010 at 09:34 AM

In Florida our weather is just starting to get cold. This will be perfect. I was wondering what fun thing to do with my potatoes.

Posted by: threeblondesandatomas | September 26, 2011 at 01:33 PM

my fiance is a soup fanatic, and he loves chunky soups! i made a pureed soup yesterday and he was sad that it didn't have chunks... i will definitely have to try this recipe out now that it's getting colder outside!

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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