In Wisconsin, depending on the region and climate, leeks are harvested mid-August through the fall. In some regions and with some varieties, leeks are harvested the spring following planting; this “overwintering” results in a larger and stronger tasting leek.
High in vitamins A, B6, C, and K, leeks also provide your body with a good amount of dietary fiber, iron, and magnesium.
How to Select:
Leeks are very mild onions; select firm stalks with dark green leaves and healthy-looking roots attached.
How to Store:
Leeks can be refrigerated in a produce bag for up to a week.
How to Prepare:
Be sure to was them thoroughly—soil likes to lodge in their tight layers. The white, onion-like base and the light green part of the stalk are edible. While the dark green tops can be used to flavor soups and stocks, they are tough, so remove them before serving. Because of their mild onion flavor, leeks are often used as a seasoning and can be eaten raw or cooked—though in general they are used in cooked applications. They work boiled, braised, pureed, steamed or fried. They are a mild, subtle substitute for onions in most recipes and work well when added to frittatas, stir-fries, pizzas and flatbread. For a hardier meal, think about adding them to stuffing or soups (particularly potato-based or creamy soups).
Recipe: Potato Leek Soup with Gruyere
Total Time: 45 minutes; 15 minutes active
This hearty vegetarian soup tastes even better when garnished with crispy fried leeks, or chopped bacon or ham.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 large leeks, washed well, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, washed and diced into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup flour
- 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
- Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the sliced leeks and sauté for 5 minutes until leeks are soft. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 2 more minutes, then add the potatoes, white wine, vegetable broth, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are just tender.
While potatoes are cooking, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of water with the flour in a small bowl. Whisk the flour-water mixture into the soup once the potatoes are tender and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Remove the soup from heat, remove 2 to 3 cups of the soup from the pot to a blender and blend in the cheese, then slowly stir the cheesy soup mixture back into the soup pot. Season with salt and black pepper and serve hot.
This hearty vegetarian soup tastes even better when garnished with crispy fried leeks, or chopped bacon or ham. Serve in small bowls with multigrain crackers for a warming and welcoming appetizer course.
349 calories, 15 g. fat, 36 mg. cholesterol, 577 mg. sodium, 36 g. carbohydrate, 4 g. fiber, 15 g. protein
A Roasted Red Pepper, Leek, and Potato Cream Soup is another silky-smooth way to use leeks (and doesn’t use flour as a thickener which is nice for those eating grain or gluten-free). It can be found in The Culinary Institute of America Vegetables, available through the Hudson Public Library system.
What about you?
How do you like to use the subtle onion-y flavor of leeks in your cooking? Share your ideas over on our Facebook page.
Want to see more local, fresh produce in your fridge? Consider joining the Hudson Grocery Cooperative—which will be a locally-owned, full-service grocery store that offers diverse food and product choices including organic, sustainable and regionally sourced options for our community.
Image and recipe credit: Welcome to the Table