The leeks in my garden did well this year, producing fine fat stalks. I find that it is easy to grow too many, and they don’t store particularly well, so it is a good thing to have a few recipes for using them and this soup is my favorite. I learned it from Kerene Spence who came to work at a bed and breakfast inn here on Islesboro where I worked for a while. Kerene made this soup at least once a week for the dinners served at the inn. The leeks turned silky and tender, the brie is rich and adds terrific depth of flavor, and I always prayed that a half cup would be leftover for me to eat before we quit for the night.
Kerene didn’t have a recipe for this soup, or for much of what she made, as far as that is concerned, but she talked me through the process once to teach me how to make it. Since it calls for sinking a whole wedge of brie in it, I tend to think of this soup as a special occasion dish; we are embarking on a time of year when some of us do a lot of entertaining and this works for a company dinner or luncheon. I should think that adding an eight-ounce package of cream cheese would produce a similar result at a lower cost though I haven’t tried that yet.
The soup has four ingredients in it if you don’t count salt and pepper. Leeks, butter, brie, and chicken stock or broth.
Kerene used to use a package of chicken noodle soup mix to make the chicken broth. That produced all the saltiness the soup needed. She always strained the noodles out. I usually have chicken broth around because no chicken bones escape my kitchen without being boiled first. You may prefer the kind that comes in a box or large can. Your choice.
She never measured the brie. The store always cuts it in wedges and we used one wedge. A stick of butter, and a pile of sliced leeks, mostly white, plus a little of the tenderest light green part, resulting from three to four leeks, and you are in business.
I don’t recommend cutting up the brie: it is best if you strain out the rind after the brie has melted off it, and the fewer pieces you have to go fishing for, the better. In fact, if you don’t mind dirtying up another pan, you could heat the broth in its own pan, add the brie to it, and simmer until the cheese has melted, then run it through a strainer into the sautéed leeks and butter to finish it. The soup is not very interesting to look at when it is ladled into a bowl so if you want to garnish it, a sprinkle of scallions would work, or you can rely on the old chopped parsley gambit.
- Three to four leeks
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 quart of chicken broth or stock
- 1 wedge of brie
- Salt and pepper
- Scallions or parsley for garnishing, optional
- Chop the dark green tops off the leeks, and slice the white part crosswise, very thinly.
- Rinse to be sure to remove any grit.
- Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pot, and add the leeks.
- Sauté over a medium temperature until the leeks are quite soft, fifteen to twenty minutes.
- Add the chicken broth to the leeks, raise the temperature, and bring almost to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the wedge of brie, and heat until the rind has begun to curl slightly and the cheese has melted into the soup.
- Remove the rind and discard.
- Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.