Recipe: Irish Potato, Leek, and Smoked Bacon Soup

updated Feb 3, 2020
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Around the World in 30 Soups: This month we’re collaborating with chefs, cookbook authors, and our own Kitchn crew to share a globetrotting adventure in soups from countries and cuisines around the world. Today’s stop: Ireland.

We drew a classic Irish recipe with a modern twist from Rachel Allen, author of Rachel’s Irish Family Food.

Potato, leek, and smoked bacon soup is made from the kind of staples that few Irish kitchens are ever without, with the potatoes forming the basis of a rustic and substantial meal in a bowl. The smoky flavor from the bacon gives this soup magnificent depth — and parsley pesto is an updated version of what many years ago would have been simply chopped parsley. It speaks to a modern Ireland, with its international influences, and it’s great served with Irish soda bread.

Potato, Leek, and Bacon Soup

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


For the soup:

  • 1 tablespoon

    sunflower or olive oil

  • 4 slices

    bacon (rashers), diced

  • 2 tablespoons


  • 1

    onion, coarsely chopped

  • 1

    large leek, trimmed and diced

  • 2

    large potatoes (about 1 pound), diced

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 5 cups

    chicken or vegetable stock

For the parsley pesto:

  • 1/2 ounce

    fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 clove

    garlic, coarsely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon

    pine nuts, lightly toasted

  • 1 tablespoon

    finely grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1/4 cup

    extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat, add the bacon, and sauté for about 1 minute, or until crisp and golden. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.

  2. Decrease the heat a little and add the butter to the oil in the pan. When it has melted, add the onion, leek, and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and cook gently for 8 to 10 minutes without browning. Pour in the stock and simmer gently for 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are completely cooked through. Meanwhile, make the parsley pesto.

  3. Discard the stems from the parsley and put the leaves in a bowl with the garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, and olive oil. Using a handheld blender, purée to a fairly smooth paste, adding a little more oil, if necessary, so that it is a thick but drizzling consistency. Alternatively, crush the parsley, garlic, and pine nuts using a mortar and pestle and stir in the Parmesan and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

  4. Purée the soup until smooth in a blender or using a handheld blender. Return to the pan and stir in all but 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon pieces. Check the seasoning, adjusting if necessary, and heat for a minute more before serving.

  5. Ladle the soup into warm bowls. Drizzle over the parsley pesto and scatter the remaining bacon pieces on top.

Recipe Notes

From Rachel's Irish Family Food by Rachel Allen. © 2013, Rachel Allen. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins.

(Image credit: Courtesy of HarperCollins)

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