Monday, October 13, 2008

Caramelized Leek Soup

It was warm on Sunday, but I bought leeks on Saturday with the intention of making soup. I've been saving this recipe for Caramelized Leek Soup for a while. I made just a few minor adjustments noted in italics.


  • 2 pounds leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 bunches)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup vermouth
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth (I used about 5 cups) Use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version
  • Garnish: 4 teaspoons finely sliced fresh chives
  • Added: 1 tsp thyme
  • Added: approximately 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Added: drizzle of white truffle oil


  • Halve leeks lengthwise and thinly slice crosswise. In a large bowl of cold water wash leeks well and lift from water into a large sieve to drain.
  • In a 6-quart heavy kettle cook leeks in butter over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until some begin to turn golden, about 40 minutes.
  • Stir in sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
  • Stir in vermouth and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated and most leeks are golden, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Deglaze kettle with 1/2 cup broth and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes more, until liquid is evaporated and leeks are deep golden. Add thyme and black pepper.
  • Add remaining 3 cups broth and bring soup just to a boil. Season soup with salt and pepper and drizzle with white truffle oil.
  • I also pulsed my immersion blender in the soup just a few times to puree some of the leeks and give the soup some thickness. The picture below is before blending, but there were still full pieces of leek after blending.

    This soup was different that what I had expected - definitely good, just different. It tasted a bit like cabbage soup. I tasted it before and after adding the thyme, and was happier with it after the addition.

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  1. Leeks are the most amazing vegetable, especially when it comes to soups. I know onions are the classic choice, and I use them far more frequently, but when I want the same flavor that onion provides without the edge it gives, then I go for leeks.
    Potato Leek soup is a great example, too. And they blend up so well.

  2. When I make this carmelized leek soup I brown the leeks more to give it a richer flavor. There are three stages of carmelization -- first in the butter, then deglazed and carmelize with the vermouth (use Noilly-Prat) and then with the sugar. The leeks should be a nice golden brown tone before adding the chicken broth.