Zuppa di porri (Leek Soup)

Zuppa di porri-1

‘Tis the season for soups! When the temperatures dive, there is simply nothing that takes the chill off like soup. The wonderful thing about soups is their enormous variety: they can be thick and stick-to-the-ribs, whole meals in themselves, or they can be light, even austere, just enough to whet the palate as the start of a formal meal or as a light supper. 

Here is a lovely example of a medium-bodied soup, none too heavy but very satisfying at the same time. It’s particularly nice during the holiday season, when you may feel like something warming but not too filling, a nice respite between those humongous holiday meals. The starring role is played by the leek, an often overlooked member of the onion family. Or, at least, I tend to overlook it, which is too bad because it has an incomparably savory yet mellow taste that makes any dish that contains it truly special.


Ingredients

Serves 4-6 people

  • 5 leeks
  • 100g (4 Tbs.) butter, or a combination of equal parts butter and olive oil, or just olive oil
  • 20g (2 Tbs.) flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 liter (4 cups) broth
  • 4-6 slices of good-quality crusty bread
  • Grated parmesan or gruyère cheese


Directions

Rinse the leeks if necessary (see below) and trim off the root end and green tops. Cut the stalks into thin slices.

Sauté the leek slices in the butter, butter and oil mixture or the oil over gentle heat until they are well reduced and quite tender, without browning, about 15-20 minutes. Season the leeks with salt and pepper just after you add them to the skillet.


Sprinkle the flour and mix it in well, letting it sauté as well for a minute or two. Then add the broth, mix it well to fully incorporate the flour into the liquid, and let simmer, semi-covered, for another 15-20 minutes.


Meanwhile, toast your slices of bread and place each slice in the bottom of a soup bowl for each diner. Sprinkle the slices with some grated cheese. When the soup is done simmering, ladle over a nice serving into the soup bowls. Sprinkle over some more cheese and top with a nice grinding of black pepper and—if you like—a drizzle of best quality olive oil.


You can serve this soup immediately, but it is best after a few minutes’ rest, which allows the soup to soak into the bread.


Notes

These days leeks are often sold pre-washed, and can be used without fuss. But if you see that your leeks are gritty, make sure to wash them well before using. You will need to split them down the middle to make sure you remove all the grit. And, by the way, don’t throw away the green tops—they are a great addition when making homemade broth, either instead of or in addition to the onion.

Speaking of which, for a simple soup like this one, where success or failure will depend on the quality of the ingredients, the broth should really be homemade. (See this post for the master recipe.) You can make your broth with beef (the usual choice) or chicken or a mixture of the two—the so-called brodo classico—and, this time of year, you can also use a turkey carcass if you happen to have one around the house…If you want to go vegetarian, then vegetable broth will, of course, do the job.


The choice of sautéing medium will subtly influence the dish. The traditional recipe calls for all butter, which gives the recipe a pleasant sweetness. But, personally, I prefer to use olive oil or a mixture of butter and olive oil, which provides a more ‘rustic’ taste. Some recipes add potato to the soup, which gives it more body. You can pass the soup through a food mill for a smoother texture. And instead of the toasted bread, you can fry up some croutons in olive oil, which again makes the soup a bit richer.


If you want to get fancy, you can gratinée this soup in terracotta soup bowls as you would a French onion soup, placing the bread on top of the soup, then sprinkling over all the cheese (use gruyere for this variation), drizzle with some olive oil (or melted butter) and run the soup under the broiler or in a very hot oven for a few minutes, until the top is nicely browned.

Zuppa di porri (Leek Soup)

Rating: 51

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Serves 4-6

Zuppa di porri (Leek Soup)

Ingredients

  • 5 leeks
  • 100g (4 Tbs.) butter, or a combination of equal parts butter and olive oil, or just olive oil
  • 20g (2 Tbs.) flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 liter (4 cups) broth
  • 4-6 slices of good-quality crusty bread
  • Grated parmesan or gruyère cheese

Directions

  1. Rinse the leeks if necessary (see below) and trim off the root end and green tops. Cut the stalks into thin slices.
  2. Sauté the leek slices in the butter, butter and oil mixture or the oil over gentle heat until they are well reduced and quite tender, without browning, about 15-20 minutes. Season the leeks with salt and pepper just after you add them to the skillet.
  3. Sprinkle the flour and mix it in well, letting it sauté as well for a minute or two. Then add the broth, mix it well to fully incorporate the flour into the liquid, and let simmer, semi-covered, for another 15-20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, toast your slices of bread and place each slice in the bottom of a soup bowl for each diner. Sprinkle the slices with some grated cheese. When the soup is done simmering, ladle over a nice serving into the soup bowls. Sprinkle over some more cheese and top with a nice grinding of black pepper and—if you like—a drizzle of best quality olive oil.
  5. You can serve this soup immediately, but it is best after a few minutes' rest, which allows the soup to soak into the bread.
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20 Responses to “Zuppa di porri (Leek Soup)”

  1. 13 December 2010 at 21:59 #

    A lovely soup for this time of year! The gruyere is a nice touch.

  2. 13 December 2010 at 14:56 #

    Hi there, I'm Italian, I live in Italy … and I made your zuppa di porri yesterday! Isn't it funny?
    Anyway, it was really delicious. I used homemade chicken broth. I did gratinée it in terracotta soup bowls, with slices of bruschetta and a generous sprinkle
    of parmesan and fontina. Yummi!

  3. 12 December 2010 at 13:43 #

    This soup makes me feel nostalgic. My dad used to love leek soup. He would also improvise at the last minute by adding pieces good Italian bread to mom's homemade broth. Simple but satisfying. Your soup would have been the perfect combination for him.

  4. 7 December 2010 at 01:10 #

    wow! what a delicious recipe! I just love it :)

  5. 6 December 2010 at 04:45 #

    Thanks for this post. Have a happy holiday season!

  6. 4 December 2010 at 15:13 #

    Frank, this will be a wonderful addition to our soup menu! I've always make vichyssoise & had no idea leek and bread soup even existed. Thank you too for the hint about saving the tops. We love leeks and consequently, I substitute a lot with them :-) Kate @kateiscooking

  7. 3 December 2010 at 20:39 #

    This soup looks absolutely scrumptious! Beautiful presentation and photos!
    Thank you for sharing this recipe with my group over at CookEatShare!
    Cheers~

  8. 3 December 2010 at 12:39 #

    Sounds great got to try this one

    http://swedish-recipes.net/birthday-food-baby-shower-food-or-special-event-food/

  9. 30 November 2010 at 10:29 #

    This goes straight to my souper-loving heart. Using leeks as a base is wonderfully flavorful. Of course then there's the cheese…

  10. 30 November 2010 at 01:09 #

    Soup is just fantastic, isn't it!? Like you, we always overlook leeks and they look so good and inviting on the Fethiye markets. This recipe might inspire me to buy some now!

  11. 30 November 2010 at 01:07 #

    Soup is just fantastic, isn't it!? Like you, we always overlook leeks and they look so good and inviting on the Fethiye markets. This recipe might inspire me to buy some now!

  12. 29 November 2010 at 20:07 #

    leek soup is another favorite soup of mine and this recipe is one of the better ones I have seen, maybe because it is so rustic in nature and one that I know I would like very much… nice adding the Gruyere cheese

  13. 29 November 2010 at 13:33 #

    Yum! What a beautiful and tasty looking soup. I want some. ;)

  14. 29 November 2010 at 09:57 #

    The soup is lovely! Truly!

    Absolutely perfect for this time of year! …As you said so yourself!

  15. 29 November 2010 at 09:53 #

    this soup is gorgeous! so warm and inviting – I need to use more leeks, you have inspired me once again!

  16. 29 November 2010 at 03:56 #

    You flavorful homemade broth would make it sublime.

  17. 28 November 2010 at 22:31 #

    Wonderful soup for the rainy days of November. This is comfort food at its best. Wholesome recipe indeed! Thanks for sharing! Ciao!

  18. 28 November 2010 at 20:07 #

    i love soups but no matter how much i love them and how easy they are to make, i'm always too afraid to make them because i don't know how to make them look pretty. and your soup is one of those pretty soups i've always dreamed of making. it's so beautiful on the photos and i'm sure it tastes just as lovely!

  19. 28 November 2010 at 19:09 #

    Oh, how wonderful! Yes, I must agree that I do not use leeks as much as I should, either. This looks so wonderfully tasty! Love the Gruyere with it :-)

  20. 28 November 2010 at 17:52 #

    What a beautifully simple soup! Starting with a flavorful homemade broth would make it sublime. Thank you for posting it!

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