This soup is phenomenal. I make a damn good soup (thanks to my good friend Laura Adams Wilson who imparted her Cuban mama’s secrets along the way of our friendship!) But this? This rivals even my Laura’s soups. Full disclosure: I made this soup TWO DAYS in a row. THAT is how much I loved it.
So, I had leeks. And I had kale. My smoothies have been chock full of so much kale this week, I needed to change up the medium.
When I stumbled upon this particular recipe, the first thing that caught my eye was the toasting of the cumin and addition of cilantro and lemon at the end. It is like a hearty bowl of winter soup but with a tart twist of a springtime burst of sunshine with green onions and herbs.
Here is the original recipe on splendidtable.org… (which, by the way, has some of the most interesting vegetarian recipes I have seen in awhile!)
- 2 large leeks, white and light green only, 6 oz. trimmed (180 g.)
- 1 large onion (250 g.)
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt, more to taste
- 12 oz. sweet potatoes (350 g.)
- 1 small Yukon gold or white potato (100 g.)
- 12 oz. black or Russian kale (350 g.)
- 4 green onions, sliced (75 g.)
- 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (45 g.)
- 2- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, as needed (about ½ liter)
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 Tbs. cumin seed
- 1-2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- a pinch of hot pepper
- garnish: additional fruity green olive oil
- optional garnish: crumbled feta cheese
-Thoroughly wash and coarsely chop the leeks, using only the white and light green part, and chop the onion. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan and start sauteing the onions, with a sprinkle of salt. When they are translucent and soft, add the leeks and keep cooking, stirring often, until all the vegetables are golden, about 20 minutes.
-Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes, scrub the small Yukon gold or white potato, and cut them all in 1/2 inch dice. Trim the thick stems from the kale, and cut the greens into one-inch strips, or chop them very coarsely. Combine the sweet potatoes and kale in a soup pot with 5 cups (1 1/4 liter) cold water and a teaspoon of salt, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about fifteen minutes.
-Add the sautéed leeks and onions to the pot, along with the sliced green onions, cilantro, and a lot of fresh ground black pepper. Add as much of the vegetable broth as you need to give the soup a nice consistency – this is a hearty soup, but not a stew, and it should pour easily from a ladle. Simmer the soup gently, covered, for about ten more minutes.
-Lightly toast the cumin seed in a dry pan, just until it is fragrant, and grind it in a mortar or spice grinder. Stir the cumin seed and a spoonful of lemon juice into the soup, and taste. Add more salt, pepper or lemon juice as needed, and finish with a pinch of cayenne or any red pepper.
-Ladle the soup into warm bowls, and garnish each bowl with a swirl of fruity olive oil. If you like cheese, a heaping spoonful of tangy crumbled feta cheese dropped on top of each serving is fantastic.
Natalie Halt is one of Gather’s co-founders. She competed internationally on water skiing’s Pro Tour and World Cup circuits for a decade, sustaining her top performance with a yoga practice that began in 2000. Natalie is now a certified yoga teacher, and the mother of two boys. She lives in South Carolina, USA.