Run Hot or Cold with Potato Leek Soup

New potatoes and the leeks are fine and ready, and we are still having temperatures in the seventies, so cold potato and leek soup tastes very good indeed. This winter when there are potatoes and leeks in the cellar and snow on the ground, I’ll want my soup to be hot. This recipe from Pat Southard in Howland works both ways.

Pat’s recipe is for cold soup, creamy and thick, hitting on all those notes that make for a delicious bowl full. For once, I actually followed the recipe. Well, except that the recipe called for baking potatoes which I would interpret as russets but since I grow Carola potatoes I used those. Carolas are as good an all-purpose potato as you can find anywhere, good boiled or baked or oven-roasted at 450 degrees as make-believe French fries. They worked just fine in the soup.

I eye-balled the thyme and pepper. That sort of stuff ought to be “added to taste” anyway. Speaking of taste, I added a little horseradish to the soup.

This winter I’ll make this soup hot, perhaps garnish it with bits of fried bacon. It’ll be a fine winter supper.

Hot or Cold Potato Leek Soup
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cups half-inch cubed potatoes (about 3 medium)
  • 2 cups leeks in quarter-inch slices
  • 1 ¾ cups, or 1 medium, yellow onion chopped
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper, or to taste
  1. In a large heavy cook pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over a medium heat.
  2. Add the potatoes, leeks and onions and cook for about six minutes or until the leeks and onions are tender.
  3. Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer; cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
  4. Use a potato masher to mash the mixture to the desired consistency.
  5. Add the milk, sour cream, and thyme, salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer or medium heat.
  6. Remove from the heat and serve immediately if serving hot. If serving cold, let it cool slightly then transfer to a storage container and chill for at least two hours or overnight.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.