Saturday, May 31, 2014

Leeks - after the harvest. And a great recipe.

In the previous post I mentioned that leeks don't get the culinary respect they deserve, which is unfortunate because they are a great addition to many dishes.  Their subtle sweetness really shines when sauteed in butter or olive oil, without the bite or sharpness typically found in onions.

Leeks need to be thoroughly rinsed to eliminate all of the grit (dirt) that may hide out within the layers. This is easy to do with a couple of simple steps.

Cut off the root end and long tops, then peel away the outer layer.  Leeks will look clean but, as we all know, looks can be deceiving.

Root end and tops trimmed, outer layer removed

Slice the leeks in half lengthwise to expose the many "layers", which are actually leaf sheaths.

Carefully fan the layers apart while holding under gently-running water.  This will rinse out most traces of any dirt that could be hiding within the layers.  There may be a hard center stem which should be discarded.

Put long cut side of leek on cutting board and slice into thin slices.  

Put leek slices in large bowl and cover with plenty of cool water.  Gently swish leek slices in the water, then scoop out slices with large slotted spoon.  Any dirt remaining within the layers will be dislodged and will sink to the bottom of the bowl.

Put leek slices on clean dish towel or several layers of paper toweling to drain.

Roll dish towel or paper towel up loosely and let sit for a few minutes.  The towel will absorb excess moisture from the leeks.

Put leek slices on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and put in freezer for several hours or overnight, then quickly transfer frozen leeks (they will begin to thaw within a minute or two) to a zipper freezer bag and store in freezer.  You now have fresh frozen, cleaned leek slices available when needed!

Carrot & Leek Soup

  • 2 lbs. carrots
  • 3 large leeks (about 3 cups sliced leeks)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 Tb. butter
  • 1 Tb. fresh thyme leaves (1 tsp. dried)
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 cup white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Trim the carrots and chop them into rough 1/2 inch chunks. Trim the root-end off the leeks and cut the white section into quarters. Slice across into small 1/2 inch pieces. (Save the greens for homemade stock.) Place the chopped leeks in a colander and rinse thoroughly--they are often sandy.
  2. Place a large pot over medium heat. Add the butter, carrots, leeks and garlic and saute for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
  3. Then add the thyme, lemon zest, stock, wine, 1 tsp. salt, and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir and cover again. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the carrots are soft.
  4. Ladle the soup into a high-powered blender. (You might have to do this in two batches.) Place the lid on the blender and open the top vent for steam. Lay a dish towel over the top of the blender and hold firmly as you turn the blender on. Pressure from blending hot liquids can blow the top off and burn you, so be careful--open vent, cover with towel, hold tight! Puree until smooth. Then add the sour cream to the blender and puree again.
  5. Pour both batches back into the sauce pot and stir to blend. Serve warm.

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