Potato Leek Soup – Great Hot or Cold as a Vichyssoise
Our favorite simple leek potato soup recipe or leek and potato vichyssoise with watercress recipe is from a chain of English vegetarian restaurants named “Cranks”, in operation from 1961-1987.
I honeymooned in UK with husband, Coleman back in July-August of 1988. As vegetarians in a non-vegetarian friendly cuisine, (UK was meat and potatoes, all the more back then), we were delighted to discover numerous eastern Indian restaurants as well as the vegetarian restaurant chain called Cranks.
In addition to frequenting the Cranks’ restaurants while visiting London, we came home with three of their cookbooks.
Well Worn Recipe Books
Are you old enough to remember when recipe books or handwritten hand-me-down recipes were the only option?
Before the internet with tons more to do and easy access to online recipes, I used to go through my cookbooks to regularly try new recipes. I would rate them and add the date tried to keep track.
I was on such a mission to go through all the recipes in a book or collection for so long that Coleman asked me if we would ever have any of the favorites again. 😜
Back then I used a 4-star rating system. But since the Internet and popularity of the 5-star system, I now use 5 stars. In that case this potato leek soup is definitely a 5-star.
Trying a new recipe almost every time I cooked, kept cooking interesting for me. Experimenting with recipes from various cuisines also expanded my skills and scope of options, and fostered greater ability to successfully create my own recipes.
Trying new recipes expands your food horizons and abilities across genres of cooking.
The Cranks’ Recipe Legacy Lives on
Cranks restaurants don’t exist anymore… the death and aging out of the founders resulted in a sale that resulted in numerous resells over time, none of which ever quite restored the original shine and flair of the original owners.
However, we still have our food stained original cookbooks, and pull them out for the faves. AND… you can find some of the original Cranks’ recipes “reissued for a new generation”.1
Vichyssoise with Watercress
Though the original recipe is titled Vichyssoise with Watercress, we call it Potato Leek Soup. Watercress is not always available in our area, plus we eat it more often as a hot soup in winter. So we’ve simply renamed it as Potato Leek Soup.
Whenever we can get fresh watercress, and/or organic leeks, we take that opportunity to make this soup. However, there are substitutes we also enjoy.
Substitutes for Watercress
Whenever we can’t find watercress in the stores, we’ve enjoyed this potato leek soup just as much with watercress substitutes, listed here in our order of preference:
- Chickweed – an edible weed readily available in our wooded yard
- Nasturtium leaves
GREENS TIPS: Chop into bite sized pieces
Chop greens into bite sized pieces to keep it from stringing up around the blades of the blenders. We like the hand blenders for a chunkier blend, or a blender (we have a Vitamix) for a creamier soup.
Always Make Extra for Leftovers
As you will see from the recipe image below of the original recipe, I’ve made this in larger batches for guests or potlucks, such as in the x3 column.
When cooking for our family of four, we automatically double recipes so as to have plenty of leftovers which we call “Planned-overs“.
Even that large batch of planned-overs of this potato leek soup recipe gets gone well before the week’s over.
This soup disappears quickly as a main course for a family of four. Plus having a young adult male in the household who eats for two, everything disappears quickly!
DEFINITION – Plannedovers:
Always making extra whenever we cook so that there are alway leftovers to enjoy throughout the week.
Leek Potato Soup Recipe
The current cover image is by Elise Bauer of SimplyRecipes.com, where you can find another great leek potato soup recipe. While we make this soup OFTEN, we’ve been remiss in taking photos. (Whoops!!!) But will update with our own here SOON!
A super simple staple recipe, that’s easily adaptable to other greens and herbs, this is one of our family’s favorites. Creamy and delicious, as a hot soup or cold as vichyssoise, you can’t mess up this recipe.
How to Make Creamy Soup Recipes Richer or Leaner
You can also make this recipe less indulgent through easy substitutions.
- Milk for Half & Half
- Yogurt for sour cream*
- Whole milk for:
- low-fat milk
- nut milk – plain, such as unsweetened:
- almond milk
*We prefer the milk to the yogurt for this recipe as the yogurt infuses a hint of tart more than creamy.
The thing about adding the fat is that it’s more filling. So while it adds calories, you may also end up consuming less than with low fat. The other advantage of fat is how it can slow the rate of carb absorption because fat slows the rate of digestion. 23
Potato Leek Soup Recipe with Watercress
It’s a soothing, warming comfort food in winter and a refreshing vichyssoise in summer.
As a Hot Soup – it’s like a baked potato with butter and chives, except in soup form.
As a Vichyssoise (cold soup) – it’s more like a potato salad in summer, but with butter instead of mayo.