When it comes to cooking, March is the month I find most challenging. Many days the weather is still brisk and windy (with an occasional snow shower) – and winter foods seem most appropriate, yet I’m tiring of them and yearn for bright and sunny spring foods.
When I searched for the perfect hundred-year-old recipe for this week, I came across a recipe for Leek and Potato Soup with Imperial Bread Sticks that excited me.
The verdict: The Leek and Potato Soup was easy to make, and delightful; and, just right on a damp and raw March day. The traditional combination of leeks and potatoes in a rich and creamy soup base warmed me, and delicate yellow and green leek pieces floating in the soup provided just a hint of spring.
The recipe called for serving the soup with Imperial Bread Sticks. The bread sticks were made by cutting bread into sticks and toasting. It was fun to replicate how people made bread sticks a hundred years ago – though it I made this soup again, I’d probably either serve it with a warm artisan bread or buy modern bread sticks.
Here is the original recipe:
And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:
Leek and Potato Soup with Imperial Bread Sticks
Leek and Potato Soup
6 medium potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Clean the leeks and remove the coarse dark green tops. Cut the white and light-green portions of the leeks into thin slices. Set aside.
Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Put the diced potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Put on the stove and using high heat bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and drain.
Add the sliced leeks to the drained potatoes, and just barely cover with boiling water. (I heated the water in the microwave. In days gone by, it would have been heated in a tea kettle or pan on the stove.). Return to the stove, and using high heat bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover; cook until the leeks are tender (about 15 minutes). (DO NOT drain.) Stir in the salt, pepper, cream, parsley, and butter. Heat until the soup is hot and steamy. Remove from heat, and, if desired, serve with Imperial Bread Sticks.
Imperial Bread Sticks
bread (I used sliced Vienna bread.)
Cut as many slices of bread as desired into sticks 1/2 inch wide. Cut off the crust. Butter both sides of the bread sticks, and then place on a metal baking sheet. Place under the broiler and broil until lightly browned. Remove from oven and flip, then return to broiler to brown the other side. Remove from heat and serve.
Notes: The process for preparing and cooking the leeks and potatoes in the old recipe was a bit befuddling. The potatoes (which I assume were diced into cubes) were boiled for three minutes, then the water was drained. Next the entire white and light green sections of the leeks were added to the saucepan, and everything was covered with boiling water. This mixture was then cooked until the leeks were tender – at which point, the leeks were removed from the water and thinly sliced; then returned to the water.
When I updated the recipe I simplified the process just a little. Perhaps draining the potatoes after cooking them for several minutes removed excess starch, so I retained that step. And, perhaps pouring boiling water on the leeks and partially cooked potatoes (rather than covering them with cold water which is brought to a boil) affects the texture of the vegetables, so I retained that step.
But, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why the leeks should be cooked before slicing. If seems like it would be much more difficult to slice cooked leeks than raw ones, so I simplified that step and sliced the raw leeks before adding them to the potatoes.
43 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Leek and Potato Soup with Imperial Bread Sticks”
I really enjoy leek and potato soup, and rarely make it. I’m not sure why, but I’m glad to be reminded of it. It turned “cold” here overnight (that is, 50 degrees with a stiff wind) so it’s what passes for soup weather. This recipe differs from the one I usually use, so I’m going to give it a try.
I think that you’ll enjoy this soup. Your description of “cold” made me smile – though I’ve definitely felt very cold numerous times when the temperature was 50 – but the weather just wasn’t pleasant.
The toasted bread sticks reminded me of my mother’s simple “croutons” that she served with cream soups in the 1950’s and 60’s. All she did was toast white bread slices in the toaster and then cut them into cubes. It was not until many years later that I saw on TV the Italian or artisan bread cubes tossed in olive oil and either baked or sautéed in a pan and sprinkled with herbs and cheese.
In their own way, the old-fashioned simple toasted croutons and bread sticks were just as delicious as the more modern fancier versions. 🙂
Welcome back! It’s wonderful to know that you are on the road to recovery and blogging again. I missed your blog when it was inactive.
Your soup looks so good, especially as our temperatures have dropped today.
So far it seems like it’s been a a particularly cold March. I keep telling myself that if March comes in like a lion that it was go out like a lamb.
Oh, I am required to make leek and potato soup most weeks by a demanding husband who loves it, but the bread sticks are a new one on me. I think, like you, I’d go for regular bread. No, I don’t get why you’d slice the leeks after cooking either. Keep it simple, eh?
I totally agree – there’s no need to make things more complicated than they need to be. Simple is generally best when it comes to cooking.
How appropriate! I just made leek and potato soup last night! It was perfect for March. It would have been much better with bread sticks. Next time!
With or without bread sticks, leek and potato soup is good. Grat minds think alike. 😊
This looks delicious! We can only assume there was a “well-known reason” to cook the leeks before slicing that has been lost throughout the years. Perhaps back then everyone knew to do that for some reason!
You’re probably right. Since no one knows the reason now, apparently this rule did not stand the test of time. 🙂
Bread sticks were a treat back then, or certainly not easy to purchase. This is a clever way to use up stale bread, too.
I hadn’t thought of it until you mentioned it, but now that you say it, I think that you are absolutely right. This would have been a great way to use stale bread.
I think you’re quite right – it doesn’t make much sense to cut the leeks after cooking, especially since they have so much sand/dirt in them. Always better to cut them fresh and clean thoroughly before cooking.
The soup, however, looks delicous! 🙂
The soup was delicious; the directions just needed a bit of tweaking. 🙂
I would simplify the recipe to.😊 Love this kind of soup. Thanks for bringing it to memory. It will be a soup used this week. 😋
I’m glad that I reminded you of an old favorite. There are some lovely old-fashioned soups.
This looks like the perfect lunch for a cold day. Yum!
It would be perfect for lunch. 🙂
this looks SO GOOD! can’t wait to try!
I think that you’ll enjoy it.
You’re right, that does sound like the perfect recipe for March! I’d make it tonight if I had some leeks in the house…
There’s always next week. 🙂
This soup could advance to be my favorite soup! Thanks for the recipe.
Looks like a perfect soup for this time of year!
It’s a lovely soup for these March days. 🙂
Sounds delicious, and perfect for meatless Fridays. I’m going to have to try it.
I think that you’ll like it.
Leeks have such a pleasant taste, a truly underused veggie. Found your site today from the Isabella Alden site. I’m going to love this!
Welcome! I have a lot of fun doing this blog, and it’s always wonderful to hear when someone enjoys it.
Sounds like a warm blanket of comfort for the tummy during these cold wintery days.
Well worded – I love how you described the soup.
The soup looks very inviting 🙂 Happy to have found your blog, Sheryl!
The soup is lovely. Welcome!
A lovely very filling soup & those special buttered bread sticks,…so tasty too!
It certainly completes the meal!
I hadn’t thought about it quite that way, but you’re absolutely right. The inclusion of the bread sticks turns it into a meal.
We buy readymade potato and leak soup … I make it once in a long while. Flavours go so well together!
Classic and delicious! Bread sticks make it even better 🙂