09 May 2012

leek, potato & kumara soup with nutmeg

Soup is my ultimate comfort food during winter (and when I'm feeling a little under the weather).  Now I love a spicy stomach warming curry, an unctuous risotto or a comforting bowl of rice congee with all its condiments.  These are all dishes the rich dishes that I have an excuse for making weekly - cold winter nights.  But nothing beats a good soup, mopped up with some bread on the side.

Soup is really versatile - you can make soup out of just about anything in your fridge.  I often use vegetables that are starting to go limp, or use up the last of whatever there is sitting at the bottom of the vegetable bin like the last 2 stalks of celery left and the lone carrot.  Depending on what I've got on hand will often dictate whether I blitz the ingredients into a creamy soup, or make a clear broth-like soup.

And it doesn't stop there.  I often try and cook a nice balance of both western/European and Asian food weekly.  So my repertoire also features soups with Asian herbs, spices or ingredients (like winter melon (tung qwa), shiitake mushrooms or chinese greens).  These soups often have a lighter or clear soup/broth base and I'd have some jasmine rice on the side to eat with it.

Hmmm...I just realised I've not blogged about any of the Asian inspired soups I've made before.  That's going to have to change.  Soon my friends...soon!

And since most soups take no time at all from stove to table, soup it was for dinner tonight.  (I was feeling a little lazy).  It was a 'poke-around-to-see-what's-there' kinda soup - there were 2 kumaras that have been sitting by their lonesome self for a while and had to be used.  So those went in with some leek and organic potatoes that we bought over the weekend.  It would have been nice if I had some rashers of bacon to fry up for the flavour base, but a tub of frozen homemade chicken stock was the next best thing (defrosted of course!).  The colour of this soup may not have been an attractive earthy colour like pumpkin soup or a gorgeous green like broccoli soup, but it certainly made up for it in taste.

It's quite a thick soup, so if you prefer something a little more liquid, add one more cup of stock to what I have listed below.  And if you don't have thyme at home, leave it out or substitute it with whatever other herb you like.  I drizzled a bit of cream and a sprinkling of parsley over my soup when I served it.  You're more than welcomed to leave both out!

Leek, Potato and Kumara Soup
Enough for 3-4 people for one meal, or dinner plus lunch to take to work for 2.

1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (use less garlic if you prefer)
1 leek, washed well and sliced
2 medium sized kumara, cut into small cubes (I used purple ones, but use whichever you prefer)
4 medium sized potatoes, cut into small cubes (I used organic Agria)
1/4 tsp thyme
Nutmeg, freshly grated (if not use about 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg)
6 cups of stock (veg or chicken)
1/4 sour cream
Salt and cracked black pepper
50g (or large knob) of butter
Oil (I used rice bran oil, but you can use olive, canola or any other vegetable oil you have)

  1. Over a medium heat, melt the butter with a bit (oh...about 1 tsp) of oil - the oil helps to prevent the butter from burning.  Gently saute the onion and garlic until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the leek and thyme and continue to saute until the leek softens.
  3. Stir in the kumara, potatoes and nutmeg.
  4. Add the stock and 1 tsp of salt (check the stock you're using to see how salty it is first) and bring to boil on high heat.  Cover and reduce heat back to medium heat.  Cook covered until the potatoes and kumara are cooked through and soft.
  5. Blitz the mixture until smooth - I used an immersion stick blender - and then stir in the sour cream, mix well and heat through.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste - taste the soup and add more salt if required.

PS:  I feel the need to apologise for the photos in this post - it's quite hard to take good photos in my house at night.  It's yellow/orangy lighting throughout the house except the bathroom which has white lights, but that's not an option!


  1. I'd like to try this recipe, but I'm not able to translate kumara?! Can you help me, please!? :-) if it's a typical vegetable, how can I substitute it?

    1. Hi Simona - kumara is the *Maori word for sweet potato. If you can't get sweet potato where you're at, just leave it out and use 6 potatoes. Alternatively you could maybe sub with parsnip?

      *The Maoris are the indigenous/first people that arrived in New Zealand. Kumara was a staple. We do call the vegetable 'sweet potato', but the Maori name for it is more popular and part of every day vernacular.

      Let me know how it goes! :-)

  2. I started making a few soups too now, it is really getting cold in the evenings now! This looks lovely, and I tend to add nutmeg to lots of my creamy soups and sauces too, so this works well for me :-).


    PS, if Simona cannot find kumara maybe she find yams?

    1. I love how nutmeg lends this warm perfume to some dishes. It's a great spice to use for both savoury and sweet! Yam's a pretty good sub for kumara too - thanks for the tip Alessandra. :-))

  3. Sounds totally deeee-vine!

  4. Love soups - love kumara, what's not to love about this recipe :o)

    1. Thanks Julie. Root vegetables make such delicious soup don't they? :-)

  5. I see Vogels bread... oh I miss that stuff! Nothing like that here in Canada and haven't yet mastered how to bake it myself.

    1. Oh no! There must be a bakery somewhere that has something similar, even if you can't find them in the supermarket. Thankfully I'm not so attached to my Vogels. I'm more of a Freya girl. :-)


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