Potato Leek Soup

My favorite potato leek soup — ever. Thick, deeply onion-flavored and topped with smoky ham. Making the soup is easy, save a little knife work. But the reason this is the best potato soup is because of white pepper, lots of onions, leeks and scallions. Also, the garnishes — especially the applewood smoked ham — are crucial. And the last thing you need is patience. Wait 2 or 3 or even 4 days before you dive in. It gets remarkable better with time.



  • 1 medium yellow onion (not sweet), peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 leeks, white and light green part only
  • 1 pound (about 2 medium-large) russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


  • 2 ounces Gruyere cheese, sliced thin
  • 4 ounces applewood smoked ham, chopped
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli florets (optional)


  1. Sauté the onion and celery in the olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot (I use a 3-quart, deep saucepan so that when I puree it with a stick (immersion) blender, it doesn’t splatter everywhere.)
  2. Cut the leeks in half and run under water to remove any dirt while the onions and celery are cooking. Pat dry and slice into 1/4-inch half moons.
  3. Stir the leeks into the softened onions and celery and cook until the leeks start to soften, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the potatoes, chicken stock and bay leaf. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring just to a strong simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 25-30 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat off and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes before blending. Remove the bay leaf and use an immersion blender or a regular blender to puree until completely smooth (work in batches if using a regular blender and return to the saucepan before continuing).
  6. Stir in the cream and season with salt and white pepper to taste.
  7. Let cool before transferring to container(s) to store in the fridge for a couple days.
  8. Gently reheat over medium-low heat, stirring often to prevent sticking. Taste and add more salt and white pepper if desired.
  9. Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with Gruyere, smoked ham and scallions — and broccoli if using — and serve.