By: Sarah Beleski a recent ASU Nutrition Student
If you don’t know what leeks are, you are missing out! This allium vegetable is in the same family as the commonly used onions and garlic, yet somehow usually overlooked. When cooked, leeks have a somewhat milder and slightly sweeter taste than their close relative, the green onion. They offer a creamy texture, making them an ideal addition to soups and stews. Not only are they delicious but they are also full of nutrients, and our retail farmers in Arizona grow leeks!
Leeks are full of vitamin K and also manganese, vitamin B6, copper, iron, folate, and vitamin C. This underrated vegetable includes a lot of vitamins and minerals while maintaining a low caloric value. They are able to help with vision health, immune function, reproduction, and cell communication due to their carotenoid properties. Vitamin K, the most abundant vitamin found in leeks, is known for its positive effects on heart health. They are also full of antioxidants that fight harmful oxidation. Another connection to heart health is their association with allium vegetables. Studies have been conducted that show the positive benefits of allium vegetables in reducing inflammation and protecting heart health.
It’s no secret that adding more vegetables to your diet will benefit your health. This vibrant green and white vegetable can easily be added to meals to boost your amount of vegetables consumed. They also happen to be relatively inexpensive, so your wallet will thank you! A particularly simple and economical recipe that includes leeks is the classic French Potato and Leek soup.
Last winter, I spent a week in Paris, and I ordered this soup while out for lunch. It was creamy, filling, and warmed me up from the bitterly cold weather in Paris. Recently, I found a recipe that tasted almost identical to the one I had in Paris and it just so happens to be extremely easy to make! Try out this super simple French classic and start incorporating more leeks into your meals to make them more nutrient-rich.
Potato Leek Soup (adapted from Once Upon a Chef)
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 large leeks, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into ½ inch pieces
- 7 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Chives, finely chopped (for topping)
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot
- Add leeks and garlic to the pot and stir regularly, until soft and wilted (about 10 minutes) (You may have to adjust the heat so that you don’t brown the leeks)
- Add the potatoes, vegetable broth, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to low
- Simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are very soft
- Take out the thyme sprig and bay leaves, then purée the soup with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth (be careful not to over-blend the potatoes because they tend to become a glue-like texture if over-worked)
- Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer
- Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper
- If the soup seems too thin, allow to simmer until it thickens
- If the soup seems too thick, add more vegetable chock or water to thin it out
- Serve and garnish with fresh herbs
(2019) Leeks. The world’s healthiest foods. Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/ genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=26.
Petre, A. (2019) 10 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Leeks and Wild Ramps. healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/leek-benefits.
Segal, Jenn. Potato Leek Soup. once upon a chef. Retrieved from https://www.onceuponachef .com/recipes/potato-leek-soup.html#tabbox.