Cheesy Leek Soup

Happy Soup Saturday, folks! It’s that time of the year again, and it’s once more cold enough that I’m craving dutch oven soups and stews instead of grilled burgers. One of my favorites (right after the german lentil soup) is this cheesy leek soup.
It was a popular thing in the 90s here, made with tubs of highly processed cheese that was wonderfully melty and chock full of weird chemicals.

I really enjoyed the soup then, but have tweaked the recipe since to avoid the chemical cocktail.

For 4 very generous portions you need:

  • clarified butter
  • 500g ground meat, I usually mix beef and pork
  • 2 tsp hot paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 leeks
  • 1 liter broth (preferably homemade. I used beef today)
  • 250g crème fraîche
  • plenty of herbs of your choice, either dried or fresh. I used thyme, chives, lovage and marjoram, but way more than in the photo. Use plenty, the soup can take it!
  • 250g cheese of your choice. I used about 100g of very mature english cheddar and 150g gouda (not in the photo, still in the fridge at that point)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • mild chili flakes or some fresh herbs for decoration

Choose a pot that can fit at least 3 liters. Mine is exactly 3 liters and it’s a tight fit. If you prefer to have a bit more room for stirring, use a bigger one.

Heat up some clarified butter in your pot and brown the meat, sprinkling the spices over it while it cooks.

Chop the leeks and add them to the pot, let them sweat for a bit so they shrink and everything fits. Then add the broth and the chopped herbs.

Close the lid, bring the soup to a gentle boil and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add the crème fraîche and the cheese and let it slowly melt into the soup. Keep stirring!

At this point, I close the lid again, turn off the heat and let the soup steep for half an hour so the flavors have some time to develop before I season to taste. Depending on the salt content and the overall flavor of the broth you used, you might need a bit of an extra flavor kick for your soup. Instead of just salt, I like to add a tsp or two of bbq rub or cajun seasoning in that case.

Serve sprinkled with finely sliced fresh herbs or chili flakes with some bread for dipping and wiping the bowl. Yesterday’s cheddar jalapeno bread completements the soup really well.

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