Easy Vegetarian Potato Leek Soup for Lazy Winter Weeknights

Since my recent move to the UK and my subsequent endurance of the perpetually dreary weather here, I've noticed a significant increase in my desire for three things: sleep, baths, and soup.  I've never been too mad about soups in general, and have rarely ever made them at home, but they are the perfect comfort food for a rainy weekday evening.  

I had some leftover leeks and potatoes on hand this week, and with a few other bits I had, I managed to pull together a damn respectable recipe.

Prep Time: 15 mins

Active Cooking Time: 20 mins

Total Cooking Time: 1.5 hours

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 large leek, dark green ends trimmed, white and light green parts sliced about 6mm (1/4") thick
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into 2.5cm (1") chunks*
  • 50g (4 tbsp) butter
  • 1.4 litres (6 cups) hot vegetable stock
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • Pinch saffron
  • 80g (1/2 cup) grated cheddar cheese
  • 80g (1/2 cup) grated parmesan cheese
  • 50g (1/4 cup) arborio rice
  • 100g (3 cups) fresh spinach, whole leaves
  • 250g (1 cup) butter beans, soaked overnight and drained

Method

In a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sliced leek and the potatoes, and sauté until the leeks start to become translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté a few minutes more.  Add the arborio rice and sauté until the grains start to look translucent with a white center.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

Add the vegetable stock and the butter beans, and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 1 hour.  Then, uncover and stir in the saffron.  With a hand blender, blend ingredients until there are no large chunks and the consistency is smooth and creamy (this can also be done in a conventional blender).  With the heat still on low, stir in the cheddar and parmesan cheeses until they are melted.  Add the spinach leaves and stir until they are lightly wilted but still bright green.  

Serve the soup in bowls, garnished with freshly grated parmesan and fresh cracked black pepper, with sliced baguette on the side for dipping. 

*My favorite way to wash leeks is to slice them place them in a bowl of water, plunging them into the water to release any dirt or debris that might be clinging to them.

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