Mother’s Day is coming up and coincidentally, I happen to be further away from my mum than I’ve ever been. Anguel and I are frolicking in Greece right about now, but thankfully my mum and I got to spend a great day together in the kitchen just before leaving. I think she was mostly there to hang out with the cats – but given she’ll never turn down food, she happily taste-tested soups for our FeedFeed and Vitamix partnership. And frankly, I’m not surprised about where the recipe landed. Potato leek soup has always been her favorite.
My mum’s taught me a lot about cooking. Thanks to her, I know how to stir-fry almost anything. And I can quickly triple a recipe in my head, because her portions start at extra-large. I picked up a lot of her habits from just watching her cook. Like the countless times I’d watched her cut the light bottoms off leeks and cast them aside…before carefully stuffing the green ends into her herculean sized pot. Because of this, for most of my life, I would have sworn that you were only supposed to use the dark green part of a leek. It was only until I first read an actual potato leek soup recipe for myself, that I realized she’d been doing it wrong all along! Facepalm. It’s okay mum, you’re still right 99% of the time.
I’m happy to report that proper leek prep has now been going strong for a few years now, so it felt only right to celebrate with a soup of our own. And boy, am I excited to share this one! This recipe has all the flavors of a classic potato leek soup, but with some easy “extras” to make it fresh and exciting. Parsnips add a hint of sweet and earthy flavor. It’s a combination I love. We skipped the dairy on this one, which helps lighten up the soup and keep it vegan. And to brighten everything up (it is spring time after all!), there’s a fresh Chive Gremolata to go with it. The name sounds fancy, I know, but it’s only 4 ingredients and so worth it. If you're not familiar, "gremolata" is a fresh herb topping that's typically paired with meat dishes...but a little known secret is that it can also be used to add a punch of flavour to plant-based ones too! In addition to using the lemon zest in the Chive Gremolata, this recipe also calls for using lemon juice in the soup. A hint of acid really helps to round out the flavors. It makes a difference, trust me.
You’ll probably be happy to hear that this soup doesn’t require hours of standing over a hot stove. In fact, it doesn’t even call for a pot! Instead, everything gets roasted in the oven and combined with hot stock before a whirl in the blender. And just like that, you’ll get a silky smooth soup in the blink of an eye. Depending on the size of your blender, you may need to process the soup in two batches. I used the snazzy new Vitamix Ascent 2500 for this recipe, and it all fit in a single go. If you have any leftover soup, it’s best to store it separately from the gremolata. Soup can be reheated the next day, or eaten cold – both are delicious!
Potato Parsnip Leek Soup
Potato Parsnip Leek Soup
- 1 head garlic
- 1 lb russet potatoes, chopped (see note 1)
- ½ lb parsnips, chopped
- 3 cups chopped leek (white and pale green sections only)
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 5 cups vegetable broth (more if needed)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (see note 2)
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ cup minced fresh chives
- 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 large lemon)
- 1 pinch Fine sea salt
- Red pepper flakes (to taste)
- Preheat: Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (see note 3).
- Prep garlic for Soup: Slice top off the head of garlic. Place garlic on foil and drizzle 2 teaspoons of the olive oil over the cut side. Wrap tightly with foil and place on baking sheet.
- Roast vegetables: Add potatoes, parsnips, leek, and onion to baking sheet. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Bake until fork tender and golden brown on the edges, about 40 minutes, flipping vegetables halfway through.
- Make Chive Gremolata: Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together chives, parsley, lemon zest, salt, and red pepper flakes (to taste). Cover and refrigerate until needed.
- Blend soup: Transfer roasted vegetables to a blender. Unwrap and squeeze head of garlic over blender, to release the soft garlic cloves (discard garlic peel). Add vegetable stock, lemon juice, white pepper, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth, thin with more broth if needed. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
- Heat soup: If you have a high-speed blender, heat soup directly in blender (see note 4). Otherwise, transfer to a pot over medium heat. Pour hot soup into bowls, garnish with chive gremolata.
- Potatoes: You can peel the potatoes if you'd like - or leave them unpeeled. Peeled potatoes will make a lighter colored soup (like the one photographed). The russet potatoes could be substituted with Yukon Gold (or similar) instead.
- Lemon juice & zest: In this recipe, the zest will get used later for the Chive Gremolata. Zest the lemon first and set the zest aside (for later), then squeeze it for the juice.
- Large baking sheet: When roasting vegetables, use the biggest baking sheet you have. Spacing out the vegetables encourages them to roast, rather than steam. A "half sheet" (18 x 13-inches) should provide enough space for this recipe. But if your baking sheets are smaller, you may need to divide the vegetables across two baking sheets. If using two baking sheets, position the racks in the upper and lower-thirds of the oven, and rotate the sheets halfway through.
- High speed blenders: High speed blenders, like Vitamix, usually heat food from the friction of the blades. Follow manufacturer's directions (e.g. for Vitamix, blend on high speed for about 6 minutes, or until hot). Some high speed blenders have a "soup" setting directly built in.