This may come as a surprise, since I grew up outside of Boston and I love craft beer, but I am a giant St. Patrick’s Day scrooge. I don’t like shepherd’s pie or mashed potatoes, and I could probably count the number of times I’ve eaten corned beef on one hand.
When I was in college, it was kind of a big deal. Everyone dressed in green from head-to-toe and started drinking first thing in the morning. There was a party somewhere in the woods, a secret location that changed each year. When I was a freshman, I was so uncool I didn’t even know it was happening and missed the whole thing. Sophomore year I was too intimidated and skipped it again. My junior year I actually managed to go, but I was freezing the whole time and left early, stranding one of my best friends in a snowy field in the middle of Maine (sorry Peter!). I went again as a senior, and what I remember most is being so relieved when the party was over and I was back on campus, inside and warm, eating a giant cheesy omelet in the dining hall.
Since then, I’ve made point to skip the festivities each March. But that doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge the holiday at all—you just won’t find me in a bar pouring pitchers of green beer down my throat, or at a parade all decked out in bedazzled shamrocks. This year, I’ll be at home with a big bowl of this vegan potato leek soup, and maybe a nice hunk of my favorite soda bread and a wedge of cheddar.
Potatoes and leeks are the perfect early spring combination—hearty enough to fend off the last bit of cold, yet still hinting at the warm weather ahead. I set out to make a classic version of the soup, but on a whim I decided to roast some garlic and toss it in at the end. The results are creamy and slightly pungent, and incredibly comforting.
I served this with croutons and minced chives, but you could also top it with chopped tomatoes, arugula, cheese, and crumbled bacon for a “loaded” (and non-vegan) version.
- 3 heads of garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garlic
- 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced and rinsed to remove any grit
- 2 pounds russet potatoes (about 3 large), peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
- Croutons, for serving
- Chives, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the top third off each head of garlic, exposing the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil. Wrap each head separately in aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour, until soft.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium-heat. Add the leeks and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes (do not brown). Stir in the potatoes, salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaf. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are completely tender, 25 to 20 minutes.
- Remove and discard the bay leaf. Squeeze the heads of garlic to release the cloves. Add the cloves to the pot along with the almond milk. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the croutons and chives.