How to Make Classic, Creamy Potato Leek Soup with a Handful of Pantry Staples

updated Mar 18, 2020
How to Make Potato Leek Soup
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2 bowls of potato leek soup
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Classic potato leek soup has all the comforts of cold weather-cooking wrapped into one — a good bit of butter, slightly caramelized leeks and onions, creamy Yukon gold potatoes, and a splash of heavy cream for good measure. Our version of this homey vegetarian soup takes little lift on your part, while delivering a truly flavorful result that will have your family asking for seconds. Plus, there’s a good chance you have a lot of the ingredients on hand.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

The Best Potatoes for Potato Leek Soup

Potatoes fall into three major categories: waxy, starchy, and all-purpose. Waxy potatoes, such as new potatoes, have a low starch content, thin waxy skin, and a smooth, creamy interior, making them ideal for preparations like smashed potatoes, potato salad, and casseroles. Starchy potatoes, such as Idaho or Russet, have a high starch content, with a ruddy skin and floury interior, making them great for baked or boiled potatoes. All-purpose potatoes, like Yukon Gold, are our pick for potato leek soup. Their creamy flavor and smooth texture holds up to blending without turning mealy.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

The Easiest Way to Clean Leeks

Properly cleaning leeks only takes a few minutes, but it’s arguably the most crucial step when it comes to making potato leek soup. Leeks are grown in tall, sandy soil, and if you don’t clean them properly, you might end up with sandy soup.

On a cutting board, trim off the root end of the leek, as well as the rough green leaves on top, leaving only the white and light green part of the stalk. Carefully slice the stalk in half vertically, then place the leek flat side-down on the cutting board and thinly slice. Place the sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water and use your hands to move them around, shaking off any excess dirt. Change out the water a few times until no soil remains and the water runs clear. Before using the leeks, dry them completely on paper towels. If you’re planning ahead, you can prep the leeks up to two days before cooking and store them in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap or bees wax paper. 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

The Key to the Creamiest Potato Leek Soup

Chefs call starchy pasta water liquid gold for a reason, and starchy potato water is no different. While this potato leek recipe recipe does use heavy cream, it leans on starchy potato water to add extra creaminess, which keeps the dairy to a minimum.

After cutting the potatoes, let them soak in cold water until you’re ready to cook them. This can be done up to a day in advance — just make sure they’re completely covered with water to prevent any brown spots. Once the potatoes are removed, you’ll be left with a bowl of milky-looking, starchy water. After blending the soup in a food processor, blender, or immersion blender, add one cup of the water back to the soup to get even more creamy potato flavor. For a looser soup, just add more water. 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Serving and Storing Potato Leek Soup

Potato leek soup is a clean canvas for the toppings of your choice. Just think about what you might add to a baked potato and go from there. Chopped chives and a swirl of heavy cream are classics, but you could also add hot sauce, crispy bacon, some grated Parm, or a dollop of sour cream on top. I promise it will be delicious any way you top it.

Store the soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days, or freeze for up to three months. 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk
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Here's how to make classic potato leek soup.

How to Make Potato Leek Soup

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes

Serves4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 2 pounds

    Yukon Gold potatoes

  • 3

    medium leeks

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 4 cloves


  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 2 sprigs

    fresh thyme

  • 1

    dried bay leaf

  • 1 quart

    low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (4 cups)

  • 1 cup

    heavy cream

  • 1 tablespoon

    finely chopped fresh chives


  • Chef’s knife

  • Cutting board

  • Large pot or Dutch oven

  • Blender or food processor

  • Large bowls

  • Fine-mesh strainer or colander


  1. Peel and cut the potatoes. Peel 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, then cut them into 1-inch pieces.

  2. Cover potatoes with cold water. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and cover with cold water.

  3. Prep the vegetables. Thinly slice the white and light green parts of 3 medium leeks. Dice 1 medium yellow onion. Mince 4 garlic cloves. Finely chop 1 tablespoon chives.

  4. Sauté the leeks and onion in butter. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and beginning to caramelize, about 25 minutes.

  5. Add the garlic. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and softened, about 5 minutes.

  6. Drain the potatoes. Drain the potatoes through a fine-mesh strainer or colander set over a bowl. Reserve the starchy potato water.

  7. Add the potatoes, aromatics, and broth. Add the drained potatoes, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf, and 1 quart broth to the pot, and stir to combine.

  8. Simmer until the potatoes are tender. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat as needed and simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes before blending.

  9. Blend the soup. Working in batches, blend the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. You can also blend the soup directly in the pot with an immersion blender. Return the blended soup back to the pot.

  10. Finish the soup with water and cream. Add 1 1/2 cups of the reserved starchy potato water and 1 cup heavy cream to the soup. Cook over medium heat until warmed through, about 10 minutes.

  11. Finish seasoning and serve. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve topped with the chives.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The potatoes can be peeled and sit in water for 24 hours before cooking. The potato and leek mixture can be made and blended 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Add the water and heavy cream before reheating and serving.

Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

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