Potato Leek Soup with Corn Credit: Sandy Oliver

Cooler weather calls for soup around here, especially welcome for lunch or a quick supper with salad, biscuits or crusty bread. Substantial soup, like this one made with freshly dug potatoes and fine fat leeks, chicken broth and a splash of cream is just the ticket. And since I have a garden and the last corn is finally ripening, I cut the kernels off one cob and add them, too, for a little variation.

Leeks provide a mild onion flavor for anything you make with them. They are good sliced and baked alone au gratin style with cheese, added to scalloped potatoes or used in a chicken soup with barley. This makes them versatile and less likely than an onion to leave you weeping when you slice them up.

Because growers usually hill leeks — creating a mound of dirt where gardeners expect the leek to grow — to have tender white stalks, you may very well find dirt between the leaves close to the neck. It’s a good idea to pay close attention as you slice and make sure you clean the leeks well before adding them to the dish you are making. The light-chartreuse inside leaves of leeks’ green ends are usually tender enough to use, while the dark outside leaves are often tough. Add those to a stock pot, if you have one.

Credit: Sandy Oliver

For my soup, I used butter and olive oil to saute the leeks. Use as much butter and oil as you need — a couple tablespoons of butter is good with a drizzle of oil, enough to cover the bottom of your soup pan. Then I diced the potatoes and added them along with chicken broth to boil until soft. Because I was in a bit of a hurry, I diced them pretty small, about a half-inch square. You can decide how big you feel like cutting them up. You can use water instead of broth and still end up with a good soup. This soup can stand expansion with another leek, more potato or more broth if you want a thin consistency.

Get out your potato masher to soften the soup texture, or if you prefer, puree it. We like slightly chunky here. A little milk or heavy cream is a good idea, and a secret ingredient is some sherry added at the very end. It’s optional but very good.

Corn is an optional add-in. You could also add cooked bacon or a little chopped ham. It’s up to you. Though leek and potato alone are wonderful as well. And you can eat it right away, but it is better the next day.

Potato Leek Soup with Corn

Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons butter

A drizzle of olive oil

2 large leeks, white and light green parts sliced

3 medium potatoes, diced

Chicken broth to cover potatoes

1 cob of corn, cooked or raw, kernels cut off

½ cup of cream, or more to taste

2-3 tablespoons of dry sherry, optional

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a soup pot until it shimmers.

2. Add the leeks and mix to coat the leeks with oil and butter. Reduce the temperature and put a lid on the pot.

3. Stir the leeks occasionally until they are quite soft.

4. Add the potatoes and enough chicken broth to barely cover them, and raise the heat slightly until it boils. Add more broth as needed to keep the potatoes covered.

5. Cook the potatoes until they are tender, then mash them with a potato masher to your desired consistency or puree them.

6. Add the corn and if the corn is raw, cook the soup for about 5 minutes more.

7. Add the cream and sherry and heat the soup through until hot. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...