Sunday, April 27, 2014

Potato, Leek & Parmesan Soup (+ Baby Arugula) for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

People always ask me what my favorite soup is and I don't have a proper answer. It depends on my mood and what I am hungry for. But, put down a bowl of potato & leek soup in front of me and I am not going to turn it down. It never fails to satisfy, whatever mood I might be in, and you'll find several variations on the blog over the years. 

Although I vowed last week to take a break from Nigel Slater recipes featuring cheese or have a cheeservention, it was a short break because I saw his potato soup recipe featuring Parmesan cheese and its flavorful rinds and I couldn't resist. Like Nigel, I save my Parmesan rinds and toss them into soup when I have them and I just happened to have a couple tucked away. I cut down the butter a bit and added baby arugula to the soup. Personally, I love the combination of a peppery or bitter green and the potatoes and Parmesan and the green makes it have more a spring feel. My changes are noted in red below. 

Nigel says, "I never throw away Parmesan rinds, no matter how dry they look. They are full of intense, cheesy flavour. To get the full, soothingly velvet texture of this soup you will need a couple of large hunks of rind, about 5cm or 6cm long. If the fridge is bare, then ask at your local deli - they may let you have them for little or nothing.

Potato, Leek and Parmesan Soup (+ Baby Arugula)
Adapted from Nigel Slater, via The Guardian
(Serves 6)

3 good-sized leeks
a thick slice, about 40g (3 Tbsp), butter (I reduced to 1 Tbsp)
3 medium potatoes (I used 6 small/med Yukon Gold)
Parmesan rinds
1.5 litres of light stock or water (about 6 cups) (I used 1/2 low-sodium veggie stock & 1/2 water)

(I added 3 cups of baby arugula)
6 Tbsp grated Parmesan

Trim the leeks, slice them into thick rings, then wash thoroughly under running cold water. Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan - I use a cast-iron casserole - then tip in the washed leeks and let them soften slowly, covered with a lid, over a low to moderate heat. After about 20 minutes and with some occasional stirring, they should be silkily tender.

While they are softening, peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks. Add them to the leeks when they are soft and let them cook for 5 minutes or so, before dropping in the cheese rinds then pouring in the stock. Season, then partially cover and leave to simmer for a good 40 minutes. (I added 3 cups of baby arugula and let it wilt through for 2 or 3 minutes.)

Remove and discard the cheese rinds, scraping off any cheesy goo into the soup as you go, then blitz the soup in a blender. Check the seasoning, add salt and/or black pepper to taste, then bring briefly to the boil. Serve piping hot with the grated Parmesan. 

Notes/Results: A simple but lovely soup with lots of flavor. The Parmesan rinds add a layer of taste without making the soup cheesy, which keeps it lighter and the arugula adds a happy little bite to it. I did cut the butter down to 1 tablespoon, instead of 3. If you keep the pan heat relatively low and give them periodic stirring, I find they don't stick and still brown nicely. Using a microplane zester for the cheese on top makes it airy and light and is a great way to get more cheese flavor with less calories. I blended half and pulsed the rest for texture but you could blend it all, or leave it unblended--whatever suits your fancy. This soup really hit the spot, I will happily make it again.

This soup will be linked to I Heart Cooking Clubs for the Rootie Patootie theme this next week--celebrating our favorite root vegetables with Nigel Slater recipes. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.

We have some fabulous friends and their dishes waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen, let's have a look. 

Janet of The Taste Space brings this creamy Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons and says, "Keeping things a bit more texturally complex, I ran with bacon-flavoured roasted chickpea croutons! Because I was going to use the oven to roast my chickpeas, I roasted my vegetables, too. It helped to free up a coveted soup pot and oven burner, too. Light and fluffy yet still filling, the soup was as easy as blending together roasted vegetables with some spices. The bacon chickpeas added a salty-savoury topping that contrasted the soup wonderfully."

It's always lovely to have Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe here at Souper Sundays. This visit she shares a creation from her homemade plum jam, Tomato, White Bean and Plum Soup. She says, "I gobbled up the leftover tempeh bacon easily but was not sure about how to use the sauce.  Then again fate presented me with ageing tomatoes to use and a surplus of white beans in the freezer.  I blended them together with some extra seasoning and served it with cheese on toast.  It was pretty good.  I enjoyed the leftovers even more when I stirred in yoghurt, smoked paprika and black pepper.  It is more an idea than a completed recipe but again I wanted to record it because you never know when I will need ideas for leftover plum sauce."

A pretty and light salad from Pam at Sidewalk Shoes. She says, "I mentioned that I subscribed to Cooking Light again. I am really enjoying it.  I love paging through the magazine and I especially love the tablet version with the extra recipes. One of the recipes that caught my eye was the Salmon Salad on Arugula. It sounded deliciously simple. A perfect, light weeknight meal. The only thing was that the arugula portion of the salad was just arugula with sliced red onions. Raw onions.  Yep, this is the recipe I talked about Monday, when I shared the Quick Pickled Onions recipe.  This was what I originally used them for. They were amazing in this recipe!"  

Foodycat says, "Not that you'd know it right now this minute, but the weather has been quite salady of late. Sunny, longer evenings, quite warm. All things that make a woman feel like eating sprightly vegetables with zingy dressings." She made these fun Tuna Taco Salad Bowls saying "I filled the bowls with a layer of refried beans, then a big pile of leaves, avocado cubes, sliced red onion and tomatoes, dressed in a vinaigrette flavoured with a little mayonnaise and chipotle paste. Then I scattered on some pumpkin seeds and topped each bowl with a lightly fried tuna steak. I have been encouraged to make this meal again."

My friend Sue of Couscous & Consciousness shares this fabulous portable Mushroom, Basil and Lemon Salad and says, "This salad gets plenty of flavour from loads of basil, parsley, and lemon, a nice bit of extra texture from crunchy coriander seeds, and a good kick of heat from some chilli.  I used a small, hot chilli with the seeds left in, but if you prefer just a whisper of heat choose a milder chilli and remove the seeds - it's totally up to you.  This would be a great salad alongside some cold chicken or smoked salmon, or something as simple as a crusty baguette to mop up all the salad juices.  It would also be great to take along to a barbeque - it won't mind sitting around, and would be delicious with grilled meats, vegetables or fish."

And it was a salad kind of week here at Kahakai Kitchen where I made this spring salad of Baby Lettuce, Green Olives and Lemon Oil (with Chickpeas & Spiced Almonds). A simple recipe from Nigel Slater, I added the chickpeas and the almonds to make it a bit more satisfying for lunch. This is a salad with bright flavor and good texture, and I served it with toasted bread slices, spread with Spicy Feta and Red Pepper Dip.

Finally, I love lettuce wraps for their combination of salad and sammie-style goodness, Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shares her healthy Vegan Chinese Lettuce Wraps this week and says, "I used small brown lentils for the protein, but it's the fresh ginger and garlic that really make this recipe rock! It not only tastes great, it's easy to make, nutritious, cuts down on carbohydrates by wrapping the lentil salad in lettuce, and adds some healthy greens to your menu.  Perfect for part of a vegetarian/vegan dinner or a starter for any type of dinner. Of course the recipe is gluten free.

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week. If you have a soup, or sandwich or salad that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. Sue's mushrooms look absolutely heavenly!

  2. Saying no to potato-leek soup would be ludicrous!! Especially with this lovely green mixed in from the arugula. Such a nice bite!

  3. Sue's mushrooms look absolutely heavenly!

  4. Nice to see everyone back again.. It is funny to hear you talk abotu cheese. I still remember your (?brief) stint as a vegan (or at least posting vegan recipes)

  5. Johanna @ Green Gourmet GiraffApril 29, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    I love your gentle green soup - sounds lovely - I have one parmesan rind in the fridge I can't bear to throw out because I know it could pep up a soup - and lovely round up
    Johanna @

  6. IT sounds delicious and with some lovely summer flavours too. I keep meaning to save parmesan rinds for soup but then they get so old I feel I have to throw them away. I need to be more organised.

  7. Potato-leek soup is one of my daughter's favourites - I've never thought to add cheese and arugula to it. Sounds delicious!

  8. Potatoes and leeks, always a great combination. And as my sons says: Cheese makes a good thing even better

  9. I think it's really impossible to have a "favorite" anything. It all comes down to what type of mood you're in. Now saying that, there is no way I would not be in the mood for cheese, so a cheese intervention would never work for me. LOL! I do love the idea of using a microplane to grate the parmesan therefore using less and saving calories. This looks delicious, Deb!

  10. kitchen flavoursMay 5, 2014 at 6:04 AM

    Hi Deb,
    I have lots of favourites too, and it is difficult to narrow down to just one!
    This soup looks delicious and one that I would not turn down too. Lovely!

  11. I love a good potato soup. Adding arugula would never have occurred to me. Beautiful shade of green. And I will have to start saving mu romds.


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