soup and stew season: Italian Potato Leek Soup

Saturday November 7, 2015

I always describe Potato Leek Soup as the workhorse of the French kitchen and it is not surprisingly made all over Europe as well, besides being one of my favorite toss-in-the-pot soups. This version, probably from the Jura Mountains between Italy and France, has the unexpected additions of rice and Parmesan cheese, which add plenty of texture and flavor to this gloriously satisfying soup. Don’t have to worry about proportions, just use a leek for every potato. It tastes just as good made with water as with broth, and you just cook the vegetables until they are mushy, add the rice, then the cheese and your old-fashioned soup is ready for dinner. Bet you eat two full bowls!


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 medium leeks, hairy root end trimmed and thinly sliced, white only

3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

6 cups water, vegetable, beef, or chicken broth, to cover

1/4 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or chervil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/3 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling


Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the leeks, potatoes, and add enough water or broth to cover. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, partially cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Use an immersion blender and give a few pulses to coarsely purée the soup. Add the rice and parsley; cook about 20 minutes, until rice is soft. Stir in the cheese and taste for seasoning.  Ladle the hot soup into bowls and serve immediately with more cheese for sprinkling and French bread. Serves 4.

Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Weeknight Cooking, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2008, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2015

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.

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