1 hour 30 minutes
Contributor Christian Reynoso learned the hard way that using a blender to make creamy potato-leek soup can be a bit of a gamble. The purée easily goes gummy—and even if it doesn’t, the results are less dynamic and interesting to eat than a soup with creamy chunks of potato and caramelized pops of leek. This version of the classic pairing forgoes blending entirely, resulting in an easy potato soup with lots of texture and minimal cleanup.
Choose small waxy potatoes like fingerlings or Yukon Golds over starchier Idaho or russet potatoes (don’t worry about peeling them unless you really want to). And try to find smaller-sized leeks that’ll match the potatoes’ circumference and fit easily into your soup spoon when sliced into rounds. The green parts of the leeks are too tough to eat, so trim them and reserve to make a batch of homemade vegetable broth.
The bulk of this recipe’s prep time is spent on the gremolata topping—but it’s optional, so feel free to skip it and garnish the bowls with a simple snipping of fresh chives instead. Here’s where we try to convince you to go for the whole shebang: The combination of crispy fried sage, rosemary, thyme, and capers tossed with minced garlic and lemon zest adds a bright, aromatic punch to the warm potato-leek soup. It’s a delicate finish to the hearty, warm bowls, making this soup not just comforting, but also enlivening. And bonus, the recipe yields more topping than you’ll need. Mix any remaining gremolata with sour cream to make a ranch-style dip, use it in place of croutons as a crispy salad topper, or sprinkle it on braised chicken, seared salmon, fried eggs, or popcorn. Store the gremolata in an airtight container lined with paper towels with the lid slightly ajar (airflow will help it stay crisp); gently reheat in a dry skillet on the stovetop.
Still craving a blended soup? Our Perfectly Creamy Potato Soup gets the immersion blender treatment for a bowl that’s less baby food, more perfect purée.
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Line a baking sheet with a single layer of paper towels. Finely grate zest from 1 large lemon into a medium bowl; cut lemon into wedges and set aside for serving. Finely chop 2 garlic cloves and add to bowl with lemon zest.
Pour extra-virgin olive oil into a small saucepan to come ½" up sides; clip a deep-fry thermometer to sides of pan. Heat oil over medium until thermometer registers 225°–250°. Working in 2 batches and returning oil to 225° between batches, fry 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh sage leaves (make sure you’re wearing an apron) until oil stops bubbling and sage is crisp but still fairly green, about 2 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with ½ cup (loosely packed) fresh rosemary leaves, then 10 sprigs fresh thyme, returning oil to 225°–250° between batches and transferring to same baking sheet.
Next, set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium Dutch oven. Drain one 3.5-oz.-jar capers (⅓ cup plus 1 Tbsp. packed) and pat dry. Fry, stirring occasionally, until they burst open and are crisp and darkened to a deep green (the oil will bubble steadily at first but should be bubbling less frequently by the time capers are ready), about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through prepared sieve. Let oil cool. You should have 2–3 Tbsp.; if you have more than that, pour off excess and reserve for another use (like frying toast or making a vinaigrette). Transfer capers to baking sheet with herbs.
Pluck leaves off 1 large bunch fresh parsley until you have 2 (loosely packed) cups; discard stems (or save for another use). Coarsely chop parsley leaves. Chop fried thyme into pieces about the same size as the parsley and add both to bowl with garlic and zest, then add sage, rosemary, and capers. Season gremolata with kosher salt and gently toss to combine.
Trim dark green tops off 2½ lb. small or medium leeks (6–8); discard. Slice white and pale green parts into ¼"-thick rounds and rinse in a large bowl of water, swishing around to loosen any dirt. Drain and repeat as needed. Wipe out bowl and return clean leeks to bowl. Slice 3 celery stalks on a slight diagonal crosswise ¼" thick, then thinly slice remaining 5 garlic cloves. Add both to bowl with leeks along with 1¼ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt.
Heat oil in reserved Dutch oven over medium heat. While the oil is heating up, slice 1¼ lb. small fingerling or Yukon Gold potatoes into ¼"-thick disks.
Once oil is hot, add leek mixture and stir to coat with slotted spoon; reserve bowl. Cover with a lid and cook until vegetables are tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Transfer vegetables back to reserved bowl.
Transfer potatoes to pot and add 1 quart vegetable stock and remaining 1 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt. Heat over medium-high until rapidly simmering but not boiling, partially cover, and cook until potatoes are tender but not falling apart, 15–20 minutes. Return leek mixture to pot and add remaining 1 quart vegetable stock and ½ cup heavy cream; cook until just starting to simmer again. Remove from heat; taste and season with more salt if needed.
Ladle soup into bowls; spoon a generous amount of gremolata on top and stir in. Serve with reserved lemon wedges for squeezing over.
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Omitting blending felt like cheating but this soup is delicious. I used low sodium broth and ended up adding extra salt. Next time I make it, I’m going to add extra garlic. The gremolata made the kitchen smell wonderful and is well worth the time to prepare.
Taro root. The other kind is the cards.
Such a stellar soup!! I changed it just slightly, in that after cooking the leeks, I cooked bacon to render some fat, removed the bacon, and then added the potatoes. When I prepped the potatoes, I rinsed them in cold water to wash away some starch. I chose to immersion blend this before adding the leeks back to the pan. Removing some of that starch during prep helped keep the soup from getting gummy after blending. Next time, though, I wont bother making the gremolata, but I'll still fry the herbs to get that flavorful oil. It really adds another dimension to the flavor overall. So so delicious!!
So delicious, can't wait to have leftovers for lunch! It's true that it's a bit time consuming to make the gremolata but it's totally worth it, fried capers might be my new favorite thing! I was a little surprised by amount of salt but made as directed and it was perfect. My recommendation, use diamond crystal salt and taste as you go.
This recipe took some time to prepare and was worth every minute. I switched it up a bit using cilantro instead of parsley and homemade chicken broth instead of veggie broth. And yes, the Gremolata goes well with all kinds of things, as well as straight!
Santa Fe, NM
This is not a quick and easy week night dinner. It’s an exacting, complicated and time consuming ordeal. And it is delicious. Worth it to me as a Sunday special soup. My only real change was to replace one of the quarts with chicken stock instead of veggie all around. And I halved the celery. Other than that, I stuck true and no regrets. I could eat the gremolata straight.
Thinking all this measuring for soup was ridiculous, I made this recipe as directed. The basic components of the soup work really well here. The gremolata? Not worth the effort in my opinion. Next time I will add just enough of each fresh herb to the leek and celery mixture, along with the garlic and capers. Getting a base of those flavors going at once is important for good soup. After that, I’ll just work with the rest of the ingredients to get the right texture. Also, I suggest using a hand potato masher to break up the potatoes a little (and yes, I peeled them first, and any Gold potato will work). This recipe is overwrought. Simplify, simplify, simplify. It’s always better.
I thought it was fun to make and had interesting flavors. It is pretty labor intensive as others have said. I would use less celery - I'm not a fan of it myself and I found that every bite contained a piece of crunchy celery which stood in contrast to the other textures. Nice with some toasted bread. Enjoy!
This recipe is insane - delicious beyond compare. Make sure you use the light green of the leeks (see video) as you could leave a lot of leek out. The lemon squeeze prior to serving is over the moon. The complexity of the flavors is divine. Next time, I think I'll add mushrooms and tarot root, as tarot is (in my opinion) more substantial than potatoes. I'll still use the potatoes, but a bit of tarot root would be nice. I totally recommend this!
This recipe is a WIN. I’d agree that the herbs could have been fried at a higher temp and I added in a bit more cream + black pepper, but damn with fresh baked bread this is going to be on my fall sunday supper repeat list. Also, don’t skip out on the lemon!
"Store in an airtight container lined with paper towels with the lid left slightly open" he he he!
This soup was a celebration of springtime. I feel rejuvenated.
Los Angeles, Ca
Made this recipe exactly as it was written and it was great. I’ll make the gremolata again for all kinds of things. A squeeze of lemon is mandatory when serving.
Hi Dez, CA
Too much salt!!
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Flamingo Heights, CA