All about Leeks, Facts, History, Growing, Cooking and Everything Else

I just harvested some leeks from my garden and my husband made a delicious vichyssoise soup with them. The soup was so good and the leeks were so yummy that I decides find out more about them.

Did you know that leeks date back to 4000 BC? It has been part of the Egyptians and Mesopotamia diet. The Romans considered it royal food because it was Emperor Nero’s favorite food. He believed it would enhance his voice.

It is one of the national emblems of Wales. The cap badge of the Welsh Guards is a leek. King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd used it to identify his soldiers in an ancient battle against the Saxons. He ordered his soldiers to wear leeks on their helmets. On March 1st, St David’s Day, the Welsh pin a leek on their hats to remember their efforts and glory.

Growing them is quite easy. I started mine from seed outside in the spring. The edible part of the leek is the white onion base and the light green stalk. The dark green portion goes to the compost. To get the edible part you need to blanch leeks. I tried both methods of digging a trench and covering the leeks with brown paper bags or toilet paper tube. I have to say I found the trench method easier. I dog up a trench about 3iches deep, leaving the dirt around the trench. As leek started to grow, I spread dirt on the row inches around each stem. As for the toilet paper tube, I could only fit around one leek; the leaves of others were too big by the time I got around to putting the tubes around them. But I imagine it should work.

Leeks are a great source of fiber in your diet, and may actually help lower cholesterol. They're also packed with important vitamins and minerals, including potassium, so if you are trying to increase your intake of potassium, add a few leeks to your week. A 3.5-oz. serving of leeks contains 52 calories and 30% of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin C.

Leeks do not freeze well. I have heard you can save them in the ground over winter by covering them with mulch. Remove the mulch when temperatures are 20 degree Fahrenheit. You can harvest them over winterized leeks anytime.

Most leeks come from Michigan, California and Virginia and they are available pretty much year around in the super markets.

Here is the recipe for the soup my husband made.

  1.  Harvest 4 leeks. Look for slender, straight leeks. Leeks more than about 1 1/2 inches wide might have a tough inner core. The top green leaves should look fresh - avoid leeks with wilted or yellowing tops. Trim the dark leafy part and throw it away or in your compost bin.
  2. Wash them really good. Slice the leeks length wise, then immerse in a large bowl of cold water. Swish them around and then let them sit for a minute. The grit will sink to the bottom. Scoop the clean leeks out of the water and drain. Do not pour through a colander. Repeat if needed.
  3. Slice the leeks and mince a small onion.
  4.  Wash, peel and dice 3 cups of potatoes.
  5.  Sauté Leeks and onion together in 3 tablespoons of butter until they are limp.
  6.  Add the potatoes and 8 cups of chicken stock (for a smaller batch use 1.5 cups of potatoes and 4 cups of chicken stock)
  7. Bring to a boil and simmer for 35 minutes until the potatoes break down.
  8. Puree in a blender, or use a stick blender (or immersion hand blender) and puree directly in the pot.
  9.  Add 4 cups of heavy cream (if you are making a smaller batch add 2 cups of heavy cream) and blend thoroughly.
  10. Add salt and white pepper to taste.
  11. Server either chilled or warm. 
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