Growing up in Forest Hills, NY, there used to be a quaint french restaurant on the main street, called La Fondue. I think every week for months, on the weekends when I was 13 years old, I would enjoy my favorite soup – Onion Soup soaked in french bread and topped with overflowing melted burnt cheese. I stopped cold turkey and then restarted this onion soup obsession of mine when I was pregnant. Relax…. it was years later! I was craving onion soup like a mad woman on the edge. I can’t tell you why, but it settled the nausea. Probably something subconscious – like regression, fetal position, womb, soup…. get it ? what ever, sounds psychological.
In any event, as you know (or not) I have been a member of a CSA for years now, so am always on the lookout for interesting recipes that speak to me. This soup does just that. It’s a Mediterranean version of my long lost love onion soup, only this version is made with leeks and is much healthier. Leeks originally came from the Mesopotamian region and yet somehow became the national symbol in Ireland. In Ireland, leek & potato soup is a staple in their diet. The leek soup presented here is also made from a leek and potato base, but then spruced up with some forest green dill oil, Parmesan cheese and toasted almond flakes for crunch.
I made the dill oil by pureeing fresh dill and olive oil, then used a portion of it in the soup base, and the remaining as a drizzle across the tops of the soup. Soup aside, the oil is also great drizzled on just about any kind of egg, or crackers with cheese and even as a base for a salad dressing. Be sure to slice the leeks lengthwise and clean in between the leaves to make sure there is no dirt hiding. I regularly find pockets of mud layers in. It’s sneaky like that, and you really don’t want it in your soup. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I cleaned the leeks properly only to find myself chewing on grit later on. It’s especially embarrassing when I have guests over, and they are wandering if the grit is part of the meal. Thanks to 101 Cookbooks for sharing this recipe.
Yields 8-10 servings
1 small bunch of fresh dill
9 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3.5 pounds ( 1.5 kg) leeks, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons unsalted vegan butter
2 large, thin-skinned potatoes, thinly sliced
3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 1/2 cups (1.5+ liters) vegetable broth
toasted almond slices, for topping
grated Parmesan cheese, for topping
- Use a food processor to puree the dill and olive oil into a creamy emulsion. Set aside.
- Cut the dark, tough green leaves from the leeks, trim off the roots, and rinse well. You can slice the leeks lengthwise to get in between the layers.
- In a large soup pot, heat the butter and 5 tablespoons of the dill oil over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and is bubbling, stir in the leeks and a couple big pinches of salt. Stir well, then cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks soften up, 6 – 8 minutes. Now, stir in the potatoes and garlic and cook, uncovered, stirring regularly, for another 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are very, very soft. If the leeks at the bottom of the pot are starting to burn, lower the heat and scrape the bottom of the pan when you’re stirring. Stir in the hot broth, and use a hand blender to emulsify. Bring back to a simmer, serve topped with almonds, grated cheese, and a generous drizzle of the remaining dill oil.