From Peasant Stock to a Dish for Kings: Leek and Potato Soup

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Four


Appears in

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1969

  • About

One of the easiest soups to make and certainly one of the most delicious is basically a peasant soup from France. It is made with leeks and potatoes. The soup is interesting because it illustrates several facets of cooking. By adding cream to the basic leek and potato stock, the soup becomes more sophisticated. If the soup is puréed before the cream is added, it is elegant served hot or cold and goes by the well-known name of vichyssoise. Please note that the proper pronunciation for the soup is “veeshee-swahz,” not “veeshee-swah” as too many people have it. The basic soup and variations are given here.


  • 2 large leeks
  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped (about ¾ cup)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • Salt to taste, if necessary
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Leeks are the most delicate member of the onion family. They rather resemble giant-sized spring onions or scallions as they are called. Leeks have a great deal of sand between their leaves and must be carefully cleaned. To do this, trim off the root end. Cut off and discard half of the long green stems. Slit the leeks lengthwise from the stem end, then turn and slit them once more. Rinse well, separating the leaves, under cold running water. Shake them well, then chop them into small cubes.

  2. Cook the chopped leeks and the onion in butter, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Do not brown. Add the potatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer until the cubed potatoes are delicately tender, about 15 minutes. Season if necessary with salt, add the pepper, and serve hot.