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Belonging to the onion and garlic family, leeks have a similar, but milder flavor. They grow from small bulbs with a long, green stalk, both of which are edible and provide flavor, crunchy texture and bright color to soups, salads and more. While a sprinkle of minced leeks can provide a nice garnish to a soup, caramelizing and adding them into the stock can bring out a hearty and satisfying flavor.
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Wash several large stalks of leeks thoroughly. Rinse from the bulb up to the tips of the leaves in cold water, removing any dirt and debris. Dry on paper towels.
Place the leeks on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut off the tip of the bulb where the roots grow. Cut off the darkest green part of the stalks, leaving the pale green stalks and white bulb of each stalk. Discard the dark green stalks and the tips.
Cut each stalk in half lengthwise.
Melt 2 tbsp. of unsalted butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until they turn a light golden color.
Remove the leeks from the heat and allow to cool for several minutes. Chop the leeks coarsely and add to your soup. Warm or cook your soup for at least 30 minutes to absorb the flavor from the caramelized leeks.
Clean a leek stalk in cold water, removing any residual dirt and debris. Shake off the excess water.
Cut off the root tip and the darkest green leaves of the leeks with a sharp knife on a cutting board.
Mince the leeks into very small portions. Put the leeks in a serving container with a spoon and allow guests to sprinkle the leeks over their soup. Creamed potato, black bean, creamed cauliflower and garden vegetable soups work well with a raw-leek garnishment.
One more option is to cook the leeks until soft, puree in a blender and add to chicken or beef bases for soups.
Make sure you dry the leeks thoroughly before placing them in the melted butter, as the heat from the pan can cause the water to spatter.