This velvety smooth soup gets its flavor from onion-y leeks and creamy Yukon Gold potatoes. The perfect creamy vegetarian soup for chilly evenings!
There is something SO comforting about a warm bowl of creamy, made-from-scratch soup on a cold day. And this creamy potato leek soup recipe? It's giving allllll the warm and cozy vibes.
Fresh leeks give this soup a beautiful light green hue, and a few potatoes lend some depth and body. Use vegetable broth to keep this soup vegetarian, or grab some chicken stock instead.
We like using butter potatoes (sometimes called Yukon Gold potatoes) here: They blend into the most beauuuutiful, creamy texture. But medium russet potatoes or even red potatoes work here, too!
PS - Want to learn more about why butter potatoes are our favorite? We tested them all to find the very best potatoes for mashed potatoes!
Let’s Talk Leeks!
New to cooking with leeks? Don’t be intimidated! Think of them as a BIG, but milder (also: delicious) green onion. The most complicated part of preparing leeks is washing them: Leeks grow in sandy soil, and often that sand gets trapped in between the leaves, so you want to rinse them very well.
How to prepare leeks
Cut the darkest green edges off the top of each leek, and cut the root off the bottom. Slice the remaining leek (the white and light green pieces) in half lengthwise and place the flat side down on the cutting board. Slice the leek into thin slices. Full Tutorial: How to Cut Leeks
Now - the important part - place all the leek slices in a big bowl of cold water and stir the pieces around to shake all of the sand and dirt loose. Then, use your hands or a slotted spoon to remove the leeks from the water, leaving the dirt at the bottom of the bowl. (Don’t drain them by pouring through a colander - that just pours all the sand and dirt in the bottom of the bowl back onto the leeks!)
How much green should I trim off my leeks?
A lot of people recommend trimming the ENTIRE dark green portion of your leeks, leaving only the white and lightest green portion for recipes. But we typically like to use a bit more of the vegetable (why waste something if we don't have to, right?) The dark green parts of leeks are perfectly edible, but are often discarded in cooking because they can be a little bit tough or bitter (in quick recipes like our leek breakfast hash or leek frittata, for example, we prefer to use just the light parts of the leeks for a smoother, more buttery texture).
If you have a strong immersion blender (or a strong regular blender), it doesn't matter too much here that the dark green tops are a bit tougher, because we're cooking them in broth for a long time (and then blending them into a smooth purée). And in our testing, we really didn't notice any added bitterness from using the leek tops in this soup. If anything, the dark green pieces give it a better color and more complex flavor!
We trimmed off about half of the dark green pieces of each leek in this recipe - just cut off the very top half of the dark green area. So you're getting a bit of that bitter, complex flavor and gorgeous color, but we're still avoiding the ultra-tough, dry, leathery pieces at the very top.
All that to say: Trim your leeks however you want! We've included cup measurements in the recipe below; if you'd like to trim off the entire dark green part of each leek and use only the white and light green parts, feel free! You may just need an extra leek or two to ensure you have enough for this soup. (If you do prefer to trim all the dark green pieces, be sure to save them for adding to parmesan broth or turkey stock later!)
Our Basic Order of Operations
- Sauté leeks and garlic in a bit of olive oil until leeks are bright green and have softened slightly, then add potatoes and cook a few minutes more to get a bit of color on the veggies.
- Add salt, thyme, and vegetable stock to the soup, then bring it to a simmer over medium heat and cook until potatoes are tender (about 30-45 minutes).
- Purée with an immersion blender until nice and smooth. You can also purée this soup in a blender in batches (or skip blending all together and keep it chunky!)
- Stir in heavy cream, then do a final taste test and add salt and pepper as needed.
Three rules for great soup
- Add salt in layers. With any recipe, it's important to season a little at every step to ensure the flavors really pop! When the soup is blended, give it a taste and add additional salt a pinch at a time if the flavors don't quite pop yet (we use and recommend Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt).
- Make sure the veggies are very soft before blending: A piece of potato should smush down fairly easily when you press it into the side of a pot with a spoon or spatula. This can take awhile - be patient! That squish-ability is the key to a smooth, silky soup.
- Use a good immersion blender. A great blender is key to a smooth soup here. (Pro tip: Always make sure the head of your immersion blender is completely submerged in the soup while blending to prevent spatters and burns.) If your immersion blender doesn't always get things as creamy as you'd like, you may want to use a powerful countertop blender instead. For the creamiest soup, keep blending for a minute or two even after the soup is mostly puréed! A good blender or immersion blender should give you a very smooth soup, but if you'd like an even silkier consistency you can strain the finished soup through a mesh sieve or run it through a food mill.
Riffs and Substitutions
- For a vegan soup, replace the heavy cream with additional vegetable stock or use coconut milk (this recipe is also great with a scoop of our Magic Cauliflower Cream sauce instead of heavy cream!)
- Add a splash of white wine
- Swap some or all of the potatoes for cauliflower florets if you prefer! They'll give you a very similar texture here.
- Add some protein (and some texture!) by topping this soup with some crispy bacon, pancetta, or prosciutto.
- Leave it chunky! If you’re not a fan of cream-of-something style soups, skip the blending step and leave the veggies whole for a rustic stew. If you go this route, we recommend dicing the potatoes and leeks into smaller pieces (about ¼ inch) so it's easier to eat.
- Play with the garnishes! Top this soup with a bit of fresh thyme, a drizzle of heavy cream or crème fraîche, a few croutons, or some pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
- Simmer a bay leaf with the soup ingredients for some extra depth of flavor (just remember to remove it before you blend the soup!)
PS - Love this recipe? Try our curried butternut squash and pear soup →
Does potato leek soup freeze well?
Yes - this creamy soup keeps very well in the refrigerator or freezer! To store, let soup cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days or the freezer for up to 4 months. Reheat soup in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and give it another zap with an immersion blender to bring it back to a smooth, silky consistency if it's started to separate a bit.
What to serve with leek and potato soup
This soup pairs well with a glass of white wine and side dish classics like homemade crusty bread or a quick lemon arugula salad! It's also excellent with a cozy mushroom grilled cheese sandwich or our favorite jalapeño cheddar bread.
More Easy, Creamy Soups
A creamy vegetarian soup for chilly evenings.
For the soup:
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2-3 large leeks, roughly chopped and cleaned well (about 5 cups)
- 1 pound yukon gold potatoes, roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces (about 4-5 medium potatoes)
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- Kosher salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 ½ cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
- Fresh thyme leaves
- Heavy cream or crème fraîche
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat.
- Add leeks and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes until leeks are bright green and have softened slightly.
- Add potatoes to pot and stir to combine. Cook for 2-3 minutes more.
- Stir dried thyme and a generous pinch of salt.
- Add vegetable stock a little at a time, stirring well to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in another pinch of salt.
- Bring soup to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-45 minutes until leeks are soft and potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
- Remove soup from heat and carefully purée with an immersion blender until smooth.
- Stir in heavy cream and a few turns of fresh cracked black pepper. Taste and add salt if needed.
- Dish soup into serving bowls. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves, black pepper, and a drizzle of heavy cream or crème fraîche (optional) and serve immediately.
How to chop and clean leeks. Trim the root off the bottom of each leek, and cut the darkest green edges off the top. We like to trim about half of the dark green top away; we keep some of those dark green pieces for color and depth of flavor in this soup. Some people find the dark green pieces of leeks to be tough and bitter - if you would prefer not to use the dark green parts, that’s totally fine! Cut trimmed leeks in half, then slice each half into rough 1-inch pieces. To clean, place leek slices in a large bowl of water and stir them around to release any dirt or grit. Use your hands or a slotted spoon to lift the leek pieces out of the water, leaving the sediment behind. For more info. about preparing and cleaning leeks, be sure to read the post above this recipe!
Use a powerful immersion blender for best results. A great blender is the key to a smooth soup here. If your immersion blender doesn't always get soups or sauces as creamy as you'd like, you may want to use a regular blender instead (the soup in these photos was blended with an immersion blender, but you can still see a bit of texture in it even though it tasted very silky and velvety - a powerful countertop blender will get it even smoother). For the creamiest soup, keep blending for a minute or two even after the soup is mostly smooth!
No immersion blender? If you don't have an immersion blender, carefully transfer soup to a blender in batches and blend until smooth. Be sure to remove the center cap piece on your blender’s lid before blending to allow steam to escape - otherwise the steam can build up and pop the top off to make a huge mess. Cover the hole in the lid with a clean tea towel for a moment when you begin blending and again when you stop the blender to avoid splattering. Always follow the care instructions on your equipment and use caution when blending hot soups.
For a more rustic soup - more like a stew - dice the leeks and potatoes into smaller (¼-inch or so) pieces and skip the blending step to leave the veggies whole!
Substitutions. For a vegan soup, use coconut milk or our Magic Cauliflower Cream sauce instead of heavy cream. Add extra flavor with a dash of cayenne pepper, a few drops of fish sauce, or a squeeze of lemon juice. Add a few scoops of crème fraîche to brighten the soup up. Garnish with crispy bacon for extra protein and texture. Swap the heavy cream for half and half if you prefer (you can use milk in a pinch, but the soup won’t be as silky smooth).
Adjusting the consistency. Once blended, if the soup is too thick, add a splash of stock or heavy cream to thin it out a bit. If the soup is too thin, let it simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the soup reaches your desired consistency.
Store leftover soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months. This soup freezes pretty well - you may just need to give it another zap with the immersion blender when reheating to bring it back to a nice, smooth texture.
Safety tip: Make sure the head of your immersion blender is completely submerged in the soup to avoid splashes and burns. Always use caution when blending hot liquids.
Serve this soup with a loaf of Easy Crusty French Bread!
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 208
- Sugar: 4.4 g
- Sodium: 673.9 mg
- Fat: 9.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 29.6 g
- Protein: 3.6 g
- Cholesterol: 17 mg
Keywords: soup, comfort food, fall
This recipe was updated in 2022 to include additional photos, notes, and tips!