Mar 30 2006


delicious leek and potato soup à la spinster

I am posting this picture of my transcendent soup because it is tasteful. Soup, unlike the thing from yesterday’s post, elevates humanity. Which is why I wish readers would rethink this tendency to refer to photographs of my dinner as “porn.”

To make Leek and Potato Soup à la Spinster, which I am happy to report requires only four ingredients, saute a couple three leeks in butter for 16 minutes. Add some chicken broth and a very thinly sliced potato (sniff the potato thoroughly before you buy it. I mean really give it the old nostril. Lately I’ve been running across some exceedingly musty specimens, and a musty potato can cause disturbances in the field). Simmer until the potato starts to fall apart. Purée two-thirds the stuff and return to the pot, unless you don’t want chunks, in which case purée all of it, duh. Add the milk product of your choice (heavy cream of course tastes best) until the soup reaches the desired consistency. My view is that it should be somewhat thinner than library paste. It should coat a spoon, but not glop.

If you chill this soup overnight and eat it cold for lunch it becomes Vichyssoise. Pronounce the S!


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  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    That is indeed a gorgeous soup.

    Thank you.

  2. FunctionalAmbivalent.com

    What’s the stuff on top of the soup? Are you holding back secret ingredients so your version will always be the best?

  3. sashaundercover.blogspot.com

    The “stuff” looks like the snipped tops of green onions to me. Of course I may not speak for La Belle Twisty.

  4. Twisty

    It’s scallions. You can also put a smidge of nutmeg on there, or mace. But exercise caution! In the fist of the ham, nutmeg’s a killer!

  5. And please Tom, do not use the numeg in the bulk section of the nutmeg powder, but buy a real knob of nutmeg and one of those small graters. Unless you’re like me and don’t want numeg at all but prefer a dusting of chervil, and a few snips of anise greens.


  6. faultline.org

    Mmmmmm. ham.

    Also: With Pony on the nutmeg but especially on the chervil. In my last garden we had escaped, feral chervil running rampant throughout the vegetable beds, and were forced to eat it almost every day in large amounts. You may pity me now.

  7. saraarts.com

    It’s not porn. It’s religion.


  8. turtlebella.wordpress.com

    …sauté a couple three leeks in butter…

    Am new to twisty math, can you tell me if this means either two or three leeks or six leeks?
    In any case, looks like a lovely soup.

  9. saraarts.com

    Oh, and I totally agree with you about the nutmeg, Twisty. Nutmeg should be measured in grains, nothing larger. If you can’t see the individual grains anymore, you’ve used too much.

  10. sauté a couple three leeks in butter for 16 minutes


  11. “…feral chervil”.

    Set up a very focussed curbside market garden table.

    I can hardly wait until a friend’s garden is mobbed by feral rocket again this year.

  12. alphabitch.org

    Indeed gorgeous. I like to add a bit of snipped fresh dill to the scallions atop the leek-potato combo. And a faint sprinkle of really good sweet paprika sometimes, because that’s how my hungarian grandmother served it, and it’s kind of pretty.

    You are so right about the potatoes; they’ve been like that here lately too. Some kind of epidemic blight in the crop? Problems in the storage/transport facilities? This happens to potatoes this time of year? I thought I was imagining this, but I’ve been buying both potatoes and onions one by one lately because they all seem so strange. I search and sniff and reject most of them. No matter where I shop.

    It’s always seemed to me that in every bag of potatoes or onions (doesn’t matter if they’re organic or not, from a posh store or not) there is always one that has gone bad already when you buy it. I have long held the belief that there is a person in every single onion and potato packing facility whose job it is to put one spoiled unit into every single bag. Even the very small bags. But lately it seems that lots of them are spoiled or at least vaguely yucky — any given bag contains at least half suboptimal or completely unusable units.

    I blame capitalism. And Big Ag. I blame the patriarchy for both of these. Although I’m inclined to accept the proposition that capitalism & patriarchy are sort of a chicken/egg situation.

  13. That’s much better. Thanks.

    Also, I work for a supermarket chain — I’ll ask the experts about the onion/potato situation and come back with an answer, but I think it’s a combination of root vegetables in extended storage and the time of year.

  14. faultline.org/place/toad


    And Gaw Damn, now we have to worry about potato flu. I blame the tateriarchy.

  15. myaimistrue.com

    Oh, Twisty. Thank you!

  16. Beautiful. Simple. Beautiful.

    I’ll second Sara: sublime.

    My dim childhood memories seem to store “Vichyssoise” under “murder weapon” or other mass death cause. Was there some sort of detective story or soap opera plot with that story line?

  17. Jesus that looks good. I want some right now. Will be making it this weekend. Thanks Twisty for the recipe!!!

  18. mycrust.livejournal.com

    Pronounce the S!

    Finally someone is taking on this incredibly annoying linguistic issue! Do you not see the “e” at the end, people?? Along these lines, few things would make me happier than if misuse of “begs the question” was up next on your chopping block.

    I am curious about the soup: do you find the idea of a few drops of hot sauce to be a reasonable service option or utter sacrilege?

  19. Twisty

    Adding hot sauce would not be my personal recommendation for this particular soup, which depends for its success on subtlety, but if you were to susbstitute onion and garlic for the leek, throw in some pureed chipotle and a handful of grated cheddar at the end, you’d have a great soup with big dumb flavors, and you could crumble bacon on it. Yum.

  20. members.cox.net/thevixen/Cayenne/1.html

    Can’t be porn. Porn=bad, Soup = Good

  21. If I may mycrust, if you wanted to add heat, without dilluting the soup its self, a thinly(very) sliced small green chili could be used as a garinsh rather than the scallion.

  22. angryforareason.blogspot.com

    Exactly schatze.

    I will never call your food porn Twisty, though I may alter the recipies to satisfy my vegetarian self.

  23. peggasus.blogspot.com

    That looks lovely!

    Did you know that you are not supposed to store potatoes and onions near each other? One gives off a gas that makes the other one rot. I don’t suppose it matters which one, it just does. I used to store mine next to under each other in a ventilated bin, and damned if that didn’t happen. Now I don’t, and it doesn’t.

    And for all I erad about leeks being ‘peasant food,’ you wouldn’t know it around here. They usually go for about $2.99 or $3.99 a pound. That’s a luxury vegetable for me.

  24. kathymccarty.info

    I realize many have not the time, inclination, or yard to garden; however, LEEKS are expensive for SOME reason, but you can grow them here in Austin ALL WINTER LONG and they do just GREAT. I have a big organic bed of them now. They are truly a convenience vegetable, in that they stay ready a long time (like peppers) and you can just go get one when you need one. Ditto onions and garlic by the way, I mean in terms or growing easily and well here. In Winter. (peppers=summer….not to be confusing !!)

  25. more soup blogging! mmmmm.

    and bert! i long to see his most recent art installations.

  26. thaliatook.com

    Thank you, Twisty, we needed this.

    Does anyone know if there’s a sort of roach clip you can get to hold a nutmeg once it gets to hemisphere-shaped? I’m getting real sick of the skinned knuckles, not to mention the whole grated-human-flesh-in-my-food thing.

  27. I will make this soup AND I will hamfist the nutmeg.
    There isn’t a soup in the world which can’t be improved with the stuff, and lots of it.
    Yes, I’m unabashedly breaking with the ranks here and proclaiming my love for all manner of nutmeg.

  28. NUTMEG – fresh stuff yeah!

    Also, am I the only one who needs quite a bit of salt?

    Fresh black pepper?

    Make a bunch, take in to work, microwave, drink in mug while reading blogs.

    Actually, OK with skim milk, if you are thinking South Beach.

    Food is CORN not PORN!

  29. head-nurse.blogspot.com

    Potatoes, non-musty, yay.

    Nutmeg, Bra-VO.

    Leeks, please please please please be sure to wash ’em thoroughly prior to putting ’em in anything that’ll touch human lips. I have lingering shudders from the sandy leeks Mom served me as a little Jo-let.

  30. Thalia, all you need to do is add a handle. Drill a pilot hole and put in a screw, makes a great handle.

  31. Now that’s my kind of cooking; simple. I think I will try that this weekend.

  32. lapplander.blogspot.com

    Thank you for confirming my experience re potatoes these days– the grocery stores are rife with musty old spuds. Same with onions. I’ve been just appalled at the quality lately.

  33. Best way I’ve found to clean leeks: Slice the edible portion lengthwise (after cutting off the leaves and roots, of course)and then slice across in whatever width is called for. Separate the pieces and rinse with the sprayer and dry well before sauteeing. I believe, though I may be wrong, that “a couple three leeks” means two of those nice big club-type leeks, or at least three and quite possibly more of the skinny, pre-pubescent leeks.
    I will be making this soup as soon as I can find the bottom piece to my damn blender jar. Also some decent leeks. One can also make an excellent soup from celeriac along these same lines, though I have never eaten it cold. For those who are not familiar with celeriac, it is a large knobbly unprepossessing root that is a pain to peel, but it makes nice soup.
    It is puzzling to me that potatoes are either sold loose (and therefore under lights, causing green) or in plastic bags, which promote a humid enviroment and quick deterioration among the potatoes. Maine potatoes may be found in paper bags, and when I was young we rarely bought any other type due to my father having been raised on a Maine potato farm. Our favorite local farm sells their potatoes from bins which are kept covered, which helps, but they aren’t close enough to be convenient for more than the occasional visit, and it is not possible to stock-up on vegetables for an entire winter in one trip in a normal-sized car in which part of the space is taken up by people.

  34. Delightful photograph. I discovered what seems to be a variation of this recipe when looking for a new way to eat rhutabega this fall. I’ve also tried variations with turnip and sweet potato.
    I use half regular potato and whatever else I have on hand; baby carrots work nicely–no slicing! Nutmeg is a must and some fresh dill is nice.
    I tossed some roasted garlic into one of the variations, warm winter goodness.

  35. saraarts.com

    Robin, Lymie, Jo — You know, I’m not sure those of you who receive the benefit of nutmeg have any right to comment to those of us who have experienced the horror of nutmeg abuse and over-seasoning in general… I guess it’s okay if you flagrant nutmeggists express your views, though, as long as you give equal time to the rest of us.

    Oh, and just in case there’s any doubt,


    On another more serious topic, Nyx, several of my customers have recommended similar treatments involving blends of various root veggies, e.g., parsnips, kohlrabi, and burdock root, all of which (esp. burdock) are supposed to be very good for you, and all of which I personally find more palatable than rutabegas, which make me gag (definitely not a rutabeggist ally). The Russians also love the black radish, but I haven’t the faintest idea what they do with it. I think a purée of black radish soup might be a bit much, but with enough fennel or something, maybe not.

    Soup. Soooouuuuuuuuuup. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

    As the children are fond of saying (though it once meant something different to people my age), “It’s all good.”

  36. If you want to add a little sweetness to a soup of mixed root vegetables, toss in a couple of apples. On a nearly unrelated note, our local farm sells yellow and purple carrots as well as the orange ones, and I’ve found that the yellow, which are a tad less tender than normal carrots, stand up better to roasting. Gad, I can’t wait until they open for the season. They have the most amazingly good spring mix. No limp or slimy leaves, none of that nasty Easter grass frisee. And then in the fall around Halloween they have the woman who makes this amazing mixed-squash soup with turkey croutons, and french fries from their own potatoes, and her own egg rolls in four flavors, and it’s on the way back from the only two places I know where you can still get unpasteurized apple cider (you don’t want to leave it in the fridge too long. The lids blow off), at one of which, if you’re lucky, you can get apple-cider doughnuts right out of the fryer. And they have free samples of all the apples, too. You can make a trip out there, starting without breakfast, and come back sometime past noon entirely full and very nearly without having so much as waved at a vitamin on its way past.
    In between those two places is the pick-your-own basil place. The car smells wonderful on the drive back.

  37. What an idyllic morning Ledasmom (who is, I think Leda’s mom?). I’ve long since stopped buying much in the way of root vegetables since I can’t store them well. The farmers’ markets bring them in every Fri/Sat morning from their cold storage, and they’re fine, fine right until spring.

    I’ve done that market morning without breakfast trip thing; trouble is, I seem to be into Wednesday’s calorie ration by 10 a.m.

  38. Indeed, and Leda is the (unfortunately, now dead) cat. We only have farmer’s markets in the late spring through about Halloween, but damn are they nice when they’re there (although not nearly as nice as the one my mother goes to in Moscow, Idaho, where I don’t think they let you leave until you’ve bought at least one prepared food item). There’s one vendor who has these wonderful beets the size of baseballs and sweet all the way through, and she also has parsnips – which are lovely in soup. She sells those little orange cherry tomatoes that are wonderfully sweet and which we must buy several pints of every time, for consumption that day.

  39. thaliatook.com

    Hmmmmph, I can’t seem to find who Leda’s mother is in myth. I know who Leda’s father was (Thestius), who Her father’s father was (Ares), who She married (Tyndareus), who She fucked (Zeus), who Her children were (Helen, Polydeuces, Castor, Clytemnestra), but not who Her mother was. By golly, I wonder who could be to blame…

  40. thaliatook.com

    Ah, we cross-posted. So sorry about the kitty!

  41. Sara, I keep looking at those parsnips wondering what they tatse like. Short of snapping one in half and crunching into it right in the market I guess I’ll have to try some.

    Ledasmom, I diced some dried apple rings and they worked well, also try pear, subtle. I also thought ginger would be a great addition but,having none, I settled for one of those wrapped candied ginger peices I get in the bulk section, it was perfect.

  42. Damn, that reminds me of the candied ginger in dark chocolate Hebert’s makes (we live about twenty minutes from the Hebert’s factory. While much of what they make is too sweet for my taste, their factory tours are well worth taking if one has a liking for chocolate. Every time the group stops moving, someone comes out with a tray heaped with chocolate and waves it around until everyone takes one). They also make dark-chocolate-covered pretzels, which are not to be dismissed out-of-hand.
    I’m trying to remember which company it is that makes the Assorted Chocolate Bunny for Easter, which is a solid but not too-thick bunny with inclusions of various fillings. I think it had caramel, toffee and I don’t remember what else.
    On searching, I find that it is Harbor Sweets that makes the things, and for those who do not find an Assorted Rabbit to be enough Assortment, they offer The Assorted Robert L. Strohecker Assorted Rabbit Assortment. I believe you can get an assortment of types of it, too. After typing all that I’m not sure “assortment” is a real word any more.

  43. In reading this post, I finally realised one of the crucial factors that makes me so enjoy La Twisty’s writing: it reminds me of P. G. Wodehouse. A snarky, incisive, radfem Wodehouse to be sure, but some of the locutions — “really give it the old nostril” comes particularly to mind — strike at that same funnybone.
    In conclusion, Twisty’s awesome. Also I am currently under the influence of some exotic aromatherapy, so you may account this another intoxicated “OMGI

  44. Huh. Cut off.
    Here’s the rest of that post:
    ” ‘OMGILUVYOU’ post. And now I think I’m going to go and try making that soup.
    Incidentally, I recently got some peculiar perfume that has nutmeg as one of its fragrance notes, along with sassafras and (I think) poppy. It’s amazing stuff.”

  45. I made this soup last night. Words fail me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  46. Martha Maus

    Octopod, you are so right. In the past I have compared Twisty to Hunter S Thompson but only tentatively because they both call the truth as they see it. Hunter S Thompson was disappointed at his core. But Twisty is more like the master of lightness, Plum, as he was called by his mates. Like Wodehouse, she might see see the blame exists but she is also illuminated by life, in it’s essential homourous dogginess, and insect infested sense. Sorry, Twisty for talking around you. I don’t mean to detract from your totally neccessary blaming, merely to say why I leave your blog of blame smiling instead of slitting my wrists.

  47. Helen

    MM, that was a truly lovely comment. And Octopod’s comparison to PGW is compelling. (Also, the tendency to occasionally and unexpectedly make beverages come out through my nose.)

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