Recipe: Velvety Leek & Potato Soup

Recipe: Velvety Leek & Potato Soup

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Alice Choi
Feb 23, 2015
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(Image credit: Alice Choi)

Velvety leek and potato soup is a staple in my house during the winter when the cold weather is persistent and leeks are in season. Since everything is blended together, I also love sneaking in more vegetables, like cauliflower, roasted red bell peppers and sautéed mushrooms, plus some shaved Parmesan for tasty garnish. I love the combination of savory flavors and pops of seasonal color.

(Image credit: Alice Choi)

You'd probably never guess but it's my kids who request leek and potato soup all the time. It's their favorite.

(Image credit: Alice Choi)

When we were living in Seattle, WA, we once took out-of-town friends on the ferry to Bainbridge Island. The day was perfect, the ferry ride was so fun and once we got there, we just walked around and enjoyed the day.

We stopped for lunch and my friend's sister ordered leek and potato soup. Our food hadn't come out yet and I think, to be polite, she asked my daughter if she wanted to taste it. She said yes and proceeded to polish off the entire bowl. And then I ordered two more.

(Image credit: Alice Choi)

Whenever I would make the soup for my daughters at home, I would always use heavy cream and since I'm lactose intolerant, I'd usually just have a very small bowl and that was it.

My oldest always has at least two bowls, if not three, so the running joke was that she can out-eat me.

But not anymore.

(Image credit: Alice Choi)

I now use lactose-free cow's milk. It’s a great way to keep milk in your favorite recipes since it is real cow’s milk (and a great place to find the same nine essential nutrients found in regular milk including calcium, protein, vitamin D and potassium), just without the lactose.

The best part? My kids can't even tell the difference.

I learned a few other helpful lactose intolerance-friendly tips when making this recipe too:

  • I can top the soup with Parmesan cheese because, like many natural cheeses, it contains minimal amounts of lactose per serving.
  • Some people with lactose intolerance can consume some lactose (the amount found in an 8-oz. cup of regular milk or 12 grams at one time with minimal symptoms), so between the lactose-free milk and minimal lactose in the Parmesan cheese, everyone in my family can have a bowl (or two).
  • By mixing the dairy ingredients with other foods, it can help slow digestion, allowing the body more time to digest the lactose and help minimize symptoms for those with lactose intolerance.
(Image credit: Alice Choi)

Velvety Leek & Potato Soup

Serves 6

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large leeks, tender white and light green parts only, chopped
1 pound potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium to large head of cauliflower, chopped
5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
1 cup low-fat or non-fat lactose-free cow’s milk
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 large red bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise and de-seeded
2 teaspoons fresh chives, diced for garnish
2 tablespoons shaved Parmesan cheese to taste
Kosher salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place red bell peppers, cut side down, on a foil lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the skins become wrinkled and slightly charred.

Place the roasted bell peppers into a plastic zip top bag (or in a bowl, covered with a plate), close and steam the peppers for about 15 minutes. When ready, remove from the plastic bag or bowl, top off the stems, peel off the charred skins and slice into thin strips. (Don’t have the time to prep homemade roasted peppers? Swap in simple canned or jarred roasted red peppers from the supermarket.)

Using a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, potatoes and cauliflower and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have started to soften, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and mix one more time.

Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat.

Using a sauté pan over medium high heat, heat a glug of olive oil for a minute or so and add in the mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms until tender, 5 to 6 minutes, and season with some salt.

Using an immersion hand blender or standard blender, puree the soup until smooth (if using a standard blender, puree the soup 2 cups at a time). This is what gives the soup its creaminess without any cream! Add in lactose-free cow’s milk and mix together well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls and garnish with the sautéed mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers, fresh chives and Parmesan. Mix and enjoy.

Nutritional Facts

Lactose: <0.1g
Calories: 210
Total Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 220 mg
Calcium: 15% Daily Value
Protein: 7 g
Carbohydrates: 34 g
Dietary Fiber: 5 g


*This recipe is lactose intolerance-friendly because it uses lactose-free cow’s milk which is real milk, just without the lactose, and natural cheeses like Parmesan contain minimal amounts of lactose. Start with a small amount of dairy foods daily and increase slowly over several days or weeks to determine tolerance. Lactose intolerance varies from person to person.

Visit EatConfidentlyWithLI.org and follow @NtlDairyCouncil on Twitter to learn more about enjoying dairy.

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