Potato and leek soup with hazelnut browned butter pesto supergolden bakes

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Potato and leek soup with hazelnut browned butter pesto

Do you ever get food blind spots? I do. For a couple of years it was fennel seeds. Even though I hardly ever use fennel seeds I somehow kept on buying large quantities of them until I ended up with about five different herb pots and 1 large bag of the stuff.

Well this weekend the blind spot was leeks. Both myself and my husband were afflicted and I opened the fridge to find a total of 4 large and 6 mini leeks! Emergency measures had to be taken and this potato and leek soup was not only up to the task but the perfect autumn lunch as well.

This soup manages to be both hugely comforting and silkily sophisticated. Despite the fact that it has very few ingredients it tastes divine on it's own or dressed up with cream or this easy hazelnut pesto.

The way my mother used to make this soup was to cover the vegetables with a smaller pot lid that fits inside the big pot and sits just over them. That way the steam cooks the vegetables without them browning too much.

For the soup
Serves 3-4
500g | 1lb 1oz Maris piper potatoes
4 large leeks (white parts only)
2-3 shallots
2 tbsp unsalted butter
800ml | 3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
120ml | 1/2 cup single (pouring) cream - optional

For the pesto
75g | 2.6 oz blanched toasted hazelnuts
60g | 4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp garlic purée
Small bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
50g | 2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated {or Vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese}
4-6 tbsp boiling water
Salt and pepper to season

Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes. Roughly chop the leeks and shallots.

Heat the butter in a large pot. Once it starts foaming, add the chopped vegetables and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the vegetables with a small pot lid that fits snuggly on top and cover the pot with it's own lid. Cook for 5-7 minutes over medium-low heat.

Uncover and add the stock. Stir and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Purée the soup in a blender until completely smooth. If you want to add cream, then return to the pot, stir in 120ml | 1/2 cup single cream and heat through. Alternatively stir in some fat-free Greek yoghurt if you want to cut down on the calories.

To make the pesto, melt the butter in a small pot over medium-high heat. Swirl the pot around until the butter foams and browns - about 4-5 minutes. 

Pour mixture through a fine sieve over the parsley and cool.

Roast the hazelnuts in a warm oven for 5 minutes or dry fry them in a pan until toasted. Take care they don't burn.

Pulse garlic, butter mixture, Parmesan, and hazelnuts in a food processor until finely ground, scraping down bowl as needed. Add boiling water and pulse until you have a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add 1-2 tablespoons of pesto to each bowl of soup and swirl around. Serve with the hazelnut and Stilton scones.

Note: any leftover pesto can be served with pasta or used in sandwiches...

This post is an entry for #MarisPiperBritMums Linky Challenge  sponsored by Potato Council for Potato Week 7 – 13 October, celebrating the varieties of potatoes and how we like to eat them. Learn more and find recipes at www.lovepotatoes.co.uk

I am also submitting this to October's Cooking with Herbs Challenge over at Lavender and Lovage.


  1. This looks very yummy! Would love to make potato and leek soup :)


  2. DRAT! I missed potato week, but never mind, I can salivate over your wonderful entry and lovely photos! A great herbal recipe thanks Lucy and such fabulous recipes too! Karen

  3. Love the colour and bet it tastes yummy. Commenting for myself and on behalf of BritMums and thanking you for taking part.

  4. I've never tried chicken and leek soup or pesto. This would be a lot of firsts and looks yummy!

  5. I love potato and leek soup but I've never tried it with pesto. I'll have to give it a go one day :)

  6. Love leek and potato but with this added twist it looks delicious