Withering Heights

Old leeks: don't look so bad once they're trimmed and washed
Old leeks don’t look so bad once they’re trimmed and washed

I love a pun. That doesn’t mean I’m good at them.

S’anyway. It’s Sunday night and the scheduled dinner is ham but The Boyfriend and I spent all weekend indoors watching the 55th annual March Meet via the live stream on BangShift.com (thanks for providing that coverage, BangShift guys), while I read from cover to cover a huge, 1940/41 Montgomery Ward catalog which really did take two dedicated days to get through. This means that not only have I not planned the week’s menu, but I certainly haven’t gone grocery shopping. I did, however, make some pressure-cooker chicken broth from a leftover roasted chicken carcass.

Well, what else is in the fridge? Among other things, some leftover mashed potatoes and two withering leeks. A-ha! I bet I can combine these items into a satisfying soup while simultaneously clearing out the fridge and feeling all thrifty-like!

Without further ado, the recipe:

IMG_0536
Withering Leeks Soup served with Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread

Withering Leeks Soup

2 Tbs salted butter
2 large leeks, sliced thin, darker greens removed
2 cups mashed potatoes
6 cups chicken broth

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed 8-quart pot over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and start to brown. I didn’t time this, but probably 5–7 minutes. Add the mashed potatoes and broth, and cook until heated through—about another 5 minutes—stirring occasionally. If your mashers, like mine here, start cold from the fridge and as a fairly solid lump, it may take a few minutes longer. Longer still if your broth is also cold from the fridge. Once heated through, purée with an immersion blender* or, lacking one, purée in batches in a blender.

This is what you want the leeks to look like before you add the potatoes and broth
This is what you want the leeks to look like before you add the potatoes and broth

You can easily substitute vegetable broth to make this vegetarian, and if you prefer vegan recipes, also substitute olive oil for the butter. Make sure those leftover mashed potatoes are dairy-free!

Makes approximately 8 cups: 8 servings as a starter, or 4–6 as a main course with a leafy salad and some crusty bread.

Shown with: Jim Lahey’s original No-Knead Bread recipe. Which I baked in the same (hard-anodized) pot in which I had previously boiled the potatoes, and later cooked the soup. Simpatico.

Gratuitous Pyrex photo. This is my container of leftover mashed potatoes.
Gratuitous Pyrex photo. This is my container of leftover mashed potatoes. It’s a Hospitality Casserole (443 Cinderella bowl with 624 lid) made in 1959.

*If you don’t have an immersion (stick) blender, I promise that they really do come in handy. They’re inexpensive, clean easily, and save you from the hassle of—for instance—awkwardly pouring approximately a half gallon of soup into a blender in batches.

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