Did you see that little patch of green in my garden of death? Over there on the left… Yup. That's my pride and joy. That little green patch is my Giant Musselburgh Leek crop and I'm crossing my fingers that I get a good leek harvest this year. Leeks are by far the most-used vegetable in our house.
I've found that most Americans don't have the leek love like I do. They're much more common in Europe, but they're like the red-headed stepchild of the onion here. People are confused by them and just don't use them.
I know that my assumptions are valid because 9 times out of 10 when I buy them the cashier in the grocery store turns them around about 4 times before crinkling up her nose and saying "What ARE these?" I'll admit to wanting to say "really big scallions - crazy huh?" since scallions so much cheaper than leeks, but I always sigh and say "They're LEEKS" with contempt in my voice. I don't know how you can go through life leek-less.
If you have someone in your life that can't handle onions due to a digestive malady, they can probably manage leeks just fine. I can think of two people I know that have digestion issues with onions, but can suck down leeks like a charm. You can cut them up and use them as an onion substitute in any recipe. They are also great by themselves with a nice white sauce and they make killer, killer soups.
I know this because my friend Jonah Lisa over at The Toby Show is a lifetime member of the leek-lovers club. She has two leek soup recipes on her blog that are simple, wholesome and a perfect introduction to leeks for a newbie.
I just made her "Leek and Potato" soup and it was so dreamy that I sucked down an extremely gargantuan bowl and completely forgot to dip my bread into it. I let Aidan take a bite and he declared it "Great! It's 15 89!" He likes to yell out random lottery numbers when something is really good. He's like a walking fortune cookie, that kid.
(It's quite clear that I do not have a career in food photography waiting for me. No props. Bad lighting. Too impatient not to eat right away.)
Jonah Lisa also told me another little tidbit about the Leek and Potato soup - it's also good with another under-used vegetable - the elusive parsnip. She said to replace the potatoes with parsnip and cook it a bit longer and viola - parsnip and leek soup. I'm a HUGE parsnip fan - their woody taste always reminds me of Christmas dinner. I can't wait to try this again with parsnips. The oh-so-holy union of two uncommon vegetables into one creamy concoction makes me quiver with anticipation.
I'm going to try her Leek, Chicken and Apple soup next. I am giddy with excitement because I've never tried a recipe from her blog that I didn't love. She swears that the Leek, Chicken and Apple soup will cure what ails you, so it sounds like the perfect elixir of health.
Do you SEE why I'm babying my leeks now? I have the leek love. If you've never cooked with leeks, grab a bunch, some taters, some broth and some cream and print out JL's recipe from The Toby Show - you won't regret it!