Leek, potato and carrot soup


I had some of the green ends of leeks so I made this soup which is based on an Elizabeth David recipe for Potage Flamande. Enough for 3:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 leeks (washed and sliced) – I used the equivalent in ‘green leek tops’
  • 1 carrot (sliced)
  • 1 large potato (peeled and sliced)
  • 750ml boiling water
  • 1 heaped tsp vegi-stock
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • Lemon juice and black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the leek slices and cook gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the potato and carrot slices and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Add the boiling water, and stir in the stock powder. Bring to the boil and simmer (covered) for 25 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add the cream and blend using a hand blender. Reheat until just boiling. Remove from the heat and season with lemon juice and black pepper to taste.

Serve with croutons (see final paragraph sweet potato and red pepper soup).


Simple chicken pilaf


This is based on a recipe which appeared in Sainsbury’s live well for less magazine (Issue 04). Enough for 2:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 boned chicken breast (cut in to smallish chunks)
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed/chopped)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 leek (sliced)
  • 120g basmati rice
  • About 20 raisins
  • chicken stock (equal to twice the volume of the uncooked rice)
  • 80g kale (washed, cut and with the stalks removed)
  • 100g frozen peas

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a heavy bottomed pan. When hot, add the chicken, and brown. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon.

Turn down the heat and add the remaining oil. Stir in the garlic and the spices and cook for 1 minute. Add the leeks and cook slowly for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, raisins and add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, and simmer (covered) for about 12 minutes, or until the rice is almost cooked.

Add the kale and frozen peas and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.


Ham and pea soup


If you’re after some good, hearty comfort food.  One of my favourites is ham and pea soup.

I often think that supermarket bacon joints are extremely overpriced.  But Sainburys’ Basics range comes to the rescue here.  They do 670gm packs of ‘Cooking Bacon’ for £1.10.  You need to be selective about the pack you buy as some of them consist of a number of small pieces of bacon and sometimes even slices.

Soak about 150gms of split peas in water overnight.  These are usually yellow split peas, you can find green ones in health food stores, but both colours seem to taste the same.

Put the bacon in a large saucepan/stockpot with about two litres of water, an onion (quartered), a leek, a stick of celery (all roughly sliced); add some parsley, thyme, pepper corns and bay leaf.  I usually add a sliced carrot, but on this occasion I didn’t have any. Bring to the boil and very gently simmer (until the bacon is really well cooked – so that it falls apart – I cooked mine for about 4 hours (barely simmering)).

When ready, remove the bacon and pull apart into small pieces using two forks.

Strain the stock (throwing away the cooked vegetables).  Drain the peas.  Chop another onion, and gently fry until soft in a clean pan along with a carrot, a leek and a celery stick (all sliced).  Add the peas and the stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the peas are cooked (probably about 1.5 hours).  If it looks too thick just add some more boiling water.  Blend and return to the pan along with some of the pulled bacon.  Serve piping hot:

Ham and pea soup

What to do with rest of the ham?

CelereiacCeleriac remoulade – grated raw celeriac mixed with mayonnaise (with added whole grain mustard, low fat yogurt and lemon juice to taste); scatter with pulled ham – a good starter:





Ham and kale colcannon – mashed potato, sliced leeks cooked in butter, kale (shredded and briefly boiled) and pulled bacon:


Leek, bacon and cheese tart


I had bought a packet of four leeks (on offer at Lidl). I’d used the green ends to make ham and split pea soup and the remains of the other two to make Macaroni cheese with leeks. So I used the rest to make this tart.

Enough for 4-6:

  • Savoury shortcrust pastry case (mine was 20cm in diameter)
  • 20g butter
  • 2 leeks finely sliced
  • 6 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 170ml double cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 150 finely grated cheddar
  • Grated nutmeg
  • Black pepper

Heat the butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the leeks. Cover, and cook very gently for 10 minutes. Then allow to cool.

Meanwhile, grill the bacon until it starts to crisp. Remove from grill, allow to cool a little, and cut into thin slices.

Beat the cream and the eggs together and stir in the cheese. Add the bacon and leeks, stirring well. Add nutmeg and black pepper according to taste.

Add the mixture to the pastry case, and cook at 160C (Gas Mark 4) for about 40 minutes, or until well browned and firm on the surface.

Serve warm or cold.


Macaroni cheese with leeks


This is an ‘all-in-one’ dish incorporating some green vegetables. I also decided to add more flavour by using bechamel sauce as the basis for the cheese sauce (although, on reflection, I’m not sure it made a great deal of difference). Enough for 2:

For the cheese sauce (infuse the milk by microwaving the milk and the next six ingredients (down to, and including, black pepper) for about 6 minutes at 750W, and leave to stand (for at least 30 minutes)):

  • 600ml milk
  • A large sprig of parsley
  • 3 sprigs of thyme (or dried equivalent)
  • A few slices of onion (I used some ‘past their best’ spring onions (chopped))
  • 1 clove of garlic (halved)
  • A small piece of nutmeg (crushed)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 50g butter
  • 2 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 100g grated cheddar

For the rest:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 leeks (the white parts – thinly sliced (the rest could be used to make stock))
  • 3 handfuls of macaroni (or another ‘tube’ pasta (eg penne, tubetti – I used amori) cooked according the instructions on the packet)
  • A sprinkling of dried breadcrumbs
  • A little grated parmesan

Gently cook the leeks in the oil in a saucepan for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the pasta and make the cheese sauce (see: Cauliflower Cheese).

Stir the leeks and the drained pasta into the cheese sauce. Pour into a shallow ovenproof dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs and grated parmesan over the top.

Cook in the oven at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for 30 minutes (longer if the have made the meal in advance).

You may feel uneasy eating leeks tonight


This BBC web page tells the sorry tale of Eastern European migrant leek pickers (and the farmers who use their services) apparently being exploited by unscrupulous, illegal gang masters.

It touches on  the perennial tale of people who are seeking to improve their lives being told that there is somewhere else where ‘the streets are paved with gold’, but being sadly disappointed on arrival.

“”They promised us that there would be work. They showed us the pay cheques that they are really sending people over there and they are working. That’s how we got here by believing in them. I would have earned more money in Lithuania.””

It seems that some ‘upmarket’ supermarkets are among those selling this tainted produce.

Image from The Garden of Eaden.