In Celebration…

…of St David’s Day – yes, I know that was last week – I have been loving some leeks.  I just cannot get enough of these!  And I’m making the most of them while they’re still in season.

The British Leeks website tells me they are in season in the UK from November ’til April – wahoo!  Another month to keep enjoying them!  And who would have thought the good old-fashioned, humble, home-grown vegetable could be so nutritious?  Leeks provide a source of:

  • B vitamins, and vitamins A, C, E and K
  • Soluble and insoluble fibre
  • Antioxidants which convert to allicin(and the leek is from the Allium family of plants) – allicin supports reduction of cholesterol within the body, as well as being antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal in nature
  • Allicin also does other fabulous things for the cardiovascular system – including supporting the reduction of blood pressure; and reducing the risk of stroke, peripheral vascular disease and coronary artery disease due to its’ impact on the body’s blood clotting system
  • Small amounts of minerals – potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium.

Me?  I eat them cos I LOVE them!

Leeks should always come with a health warning, though.  Please, always, always, always slice open the green leafy end of the leek, and rinse it thoroughly under running water to remove the soil which gets caught in the layers of leek as it grows.  Fan out the leafy layers while you’re rinsing, and rub them with your fingers to remove as much gritty dirt as possible.  There’s nothing worse than crunching on gritty soil when you’re tucking in to your prepared dish of leeks.  And soil has all sorts of micro-organisms which may not be the healthiest…  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I prepared my leeks two ways last week.  One was a repeat of this dish.  The other was as follows:

Leek & Potato Soup(Servings depends on portion size)

2 med/large leeks(see prep below)

1 tablespoon butter

2 large potatoes, peeled and roughly diced

Stock to cover the potatoes in the pan(chicken or veg)

Fresh black pepper

1. To prepare the leeks, chop off  the white bulb ends and chop off the tough green leafy tops – usually approx 2″ worth.  Make one slice lengthways in to the leafy part of the leek(see pic above), and then fan out and rinse well under running water.  Chop the leeks in to approx 1″ pieces.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, toss in the leeks and sweat them for approx 5 minutes, with the lid on the pan.  Add the diced potatoes and stir to coat with butter/juices.

3. Add sufficient stock to the pan, to just cover the veg.  The veg will release fluid whilst cooking, so add just enough stock and then add more later if you decide the soup is too thick.  Add plenty of fresh, ground black pepper(but no salt at this stage), and cover the pan.

4. Bring to the boil and maintain at a rapid simmer for approx 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.  Check for seasoning.

5. Whizz the soup to the desired consistency – I like smooth, but you can always keep some veg back to add back in after blending,for some chunky texture.  I used a hand-blender, but a liquidiser or food processor would also do the job.

6. Serve with more fresh, ground black pepper over the top, and enjoy!

It was delicious, warming and comforting.  A sandwich…a chunk of bread and butter…a slice of toast and butter…all would be good options to have with it.  Or simply serve as is.

An alternative method of preparing would be to omit the sauteing in butter at the beginning, and just boil up the veg in the stock.  This would reduce the calorie content.  But I find that the sauteing stage gives a greater depth of flavour to soups, which I love.

Have you ever tried roasted leeks?  They are superb!  Prepare as above but slice into 3″ pieces(roughly), rub in oil(I usually use Extra Virgin Olive Oil), sprinkle with salt/pepper and roast in a baking dish in the oven for approx 25 minutes.  The skins can be a little tough, although I still eat them!  But the insides are soft and delicious.  And it means a meal can be totally oven-prepared, depending on what is going with the roasted leeks.  Just another great idea…

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