The thing I like most about autumn is that after a summer of salads and light meals I get to cook with earthy ingredients again. Today I wanted something quick and simple and with a bag of Maris Piper potatoes and two sad looking leeks in the fridge, I decided to cook what is to me the mother of all British soup, leek & potato.
The ingredients are few and simple… (serves two, but easily adjusted to feed more people)
1 small white onion
a knob of butter or a glug of olive oil (or a mix of both)
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
3-4 medium (about fist-sized) Maris Piper potatoes (but any variety suitable for mashing will do)
chicken or vegetable stock to cover, about 500 ml
a small bunch of parsley (optional)
a spoonfull of cider or balsamic vinegar (optional)
Roughly chop the onion. Heat the butter, throw in the onion and sugar and fry on a low heat until soft and translucent, about 6-7 minutes. In the meantime, peel the potatoes (if you prefer, leave them un-peeled but make sure you scrub them thoroughly) and cut into 2 cm chunks. Cut the ends and most of the green off the leeks, slice in half, wash thoroughly and cut into 1 cm slices.
Add the leeks to the onions, fry for a few minutes, then add the potatoes. Cover with the stock in excess of a centimeter or two. I used homemade chicken stock from a roast my flatmates had made the night before, and it really enhanced the flavour of the soup but any good quality stock cube will work just as well. The boyfriend doesn’t like green bits in his soup but I really like herbs, so I throw in a bunch of parsley and boil it with the stock. Then I take it out before I puree the soup.
Cover the saucepan with a lid and boil on a low heat for about 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are done.
Mash with a potato masher until fairly smooth. You could also blitz this soup in a blender but I personally prefer my soups to have a bit of texture, which is why I mash by hand. Season with salt and freshly milled pepper. If you want a bit of zing, stir in a teaspoon or two of vinegar. Ladle into bowls and serve with a few chopped cornichons on top.