How to make potato leek soup with abbey ale for extra depth of flavor.
- Go straight to the Recipe Card
- Or read on for a few relevant tips first (1 min)
Leek and Potato Soup – a Classic
Few soups make use of such humble ingredients to rise to such glorious culinary heights!
Almost every European nation has a version of leek and potato soup in its repertoire and there is little by way of variation in the method of its preparation.
In Belgium, where the locally grown leeks are known for their particularly mild flavor and soft texture, the soup has been a farmhouse staple for centuries.
In our version we flavor it with a bit of another emblematic Belgian ingredient – pale abbey ale. The flavor infusion is subtle but complex and exciting at the same time. It truly does justice to the harmonious, comforting alliance of the main ingredients.
- Potatoes. Choose a starchy variety for best results. Russet or Yukon gold potatoes work beautifully.
- Leeks. If you cannot find organically grown Belgian style leeks, try the recipe with the precut, frozen from fresh bags sold at Trader Joe’s. Otherwise look for younger, not too thick leeks which are more likely to have the coveted mild flavor.
- Butter. To saute the leeks in until completely soft.
- Thyme, salt and pepper. To season the leeks as they cook. Thyme is the perfect herb to use with leeks. Set some aside for garnish.
- Abbey ale. A saison (Belgian farmhouse ale) or a pale abbey ale. See notes below.
- Chicken stock. It comprises the liquid base for the soup and adds a ton of flavor. Use homemade if you can. Substitute with vegetable stock.
- Heavy cream. To create a luxurious creamy texture.
Why Use Ale in a Potato Leek Soup?
If you love Belgian beer and are familiar with the most popular styles you will instantly recognize the merits of this recipe on account of the pale abbey ale.
If you don’t know much about Belgian abbey ales – you will be pleasantly surprised once you taste this soup.
As far as cooking with beer is concerned brews from Belgium are top contenders. They are not hopped aggressively and are typically low in bitterness. At the same time the famous Belgian yeast strains used to ferment them leave them quite dry with a lot of phenols and esters which create a complex and very enjoyable bouquet of earthy, spicy and fruity flavors.
Saisons and blonde Belgian ales in particular impart a delightful depth of flavor to dishes. Not at all a beer flavor, rather a savory dimension akin to the notes one can expect from quality extra virgin olive oils.
The process of preparation of this Belgian leek and potato soup recipe is very much in line with the traditional methods used in other countries.
- Start by boiling the peeled potatoes. In the meantime saute the leeks with butter and thyme, then add the blonde abbey ale and simmer until the liquids get reduced and the flavor concentrated.
- Blend the cooked potatoes and leeks with chicken stock, then simmer them together for the flavors to marry. Add the cream in the end and turn off the heat.
- To prepare the croutons simply saute bread cubes in olive oil, well seasoned.
TIP: Don’t skip the croutons. Use extra virgin olive oil to make them and they will complement the soup flavors perfectly on account of the spicy, earthy fruitiness of the olive oil.
Other Recipes You Might Like
LEEK AND POTATO SOUP
- 6 medium starchy potatoes such as Russet or Yukon Gold
- 3-4 leeks (about 1 lb of cleaned and sliced leeks, white part only)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 cup abbey blonde ale
- 4-5 fresh thyme sprigs
- 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup cream
- 2 slices of bread cut in small cubes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
- Peel and cut potatoes in eighths (cut in half, then each half in half and then again). Place in a large pot, cover with cold water and add 1 tbsp salt. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium low and let boil until fork tender and then remove from heat and drain the water.
- Meanwhile clean and slice leeks (remove about 1 inch from the bottom and the dark green parts, cut in half lengthwise and wash away any trapped soil particles, then slice in half moons).
- In a large pan over medium heat melt the butter. Add the cut leeks, season with the 2 tsp salt and the pepper and add three whole sprigs of fresh thyme. Cook until the leeks are translucent and just begin to caramelize, stirring often.
- Slowly add the abbey ale and stir, let simmer and reduce for 8-10 min. Remove from heat.
- Add the cooked leeks with abbey ale sauce to the potatoes. Discard the thyme at this point. Add the chicken (or vegetable) stock and using a handheld (immersion) blender puree until you reach a smooth consistency. If using a traditional blender, work in batches.
- Place the pot with the pureed potatoes and leeks on the stove over medium high heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cream, stir well, cover with lid and turn off the heat.
- To make the croutons slice bread in cubes and heat olive oil in a pan over medium high. Add the bread cubes, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and stir well to coat. Once they begin to brown they are done. Transfer to a serving dish to be used as garnish.
- Serve soup with a few croutons and a little bit of fresh thyme on top.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 562Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 1178mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 6gSugar: 5gProtein: 24g
Leffe Abbey Ale Historical Notes
Leffe is the name of a monastery in Southern Belgium which since 1240 has been famous for the delicious, high alcohol beers brewed by its monks. Crafted with local ingredients and using time tested recipes.
Throughout the centuries the abbey survived many calamities – from floods and fires to war assaults. The brewery was completely destroyed during the French revolution and was later rebuilt, a century and a half later, in 1952 with help from a Flemish brewery.
The original beer styles were once again brewed there. That Flemish brewery was later acquired by Interbrew which lead to the sad situation of today’s ownership of the Leffe ales production by a beer giant. At least the abbey ales are still produced as they should and have nothing in common with the corn syrup loaded, tasteless liquids passed as beer otherwise sold by mass producers.