potato leek soup
(Photo: Simon Bajada)

Basque Leek and Potato Soup for the Soul

Thaw out with this easy plant-based soup

Marti Buckley

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There’s no point in hating on vichyssoise, that perfectly delicious cold summer puree of potatoes and leeks. But when the culinarily gifted Basques get their hands on the same ingredients, you can bet something superior is stewing. Enter porrusalda —literally, ‘leek broth’— a favorite of the Basque people in northern Spain, where sunshine and sangria are rarities and the cool, wet climate lends itself to warming dishes. Every rural home in Basque Country has a small garden, and this soup is the stovetop medley of its cornerstone vegetables—leek, potato, and carrot.

This traditional soup is true to its name—it is mostly leeks, which get sweated down with some olive oil and garlic to coax the maximum flavor out of the allium before water is added to create a nourishing and flavorful broth. Adding potatoes and a carrot or two (optional, but popular) enriches the dish, but the real magic happens after the potatoes simmer to tenderness and begin to release some of their starch into the broth. Just a bit serves to thicken up the soup and round out its homey, warming character. 

You don’t have to be Basque to get warm fuzzies about porrusalda, which is already bubbling up this season on Instagram and #souptok. No wonder—the ingredients are practically pantry staples, but the result is a comforting soup that is as healthy as it is tasty. Leeks have diuretic and antiseptic properties and eating them in their own broth promotes detoxing and is good for everything from your digestion to your kidneys. Some Basques throw in some salt cod to make porrusalda a more filling meal, while others puree it into a cream. You can take a cue from their experiments and fine-tune this recipe to your liking —I can promise you it will still be delicious.

Get the recipe in the link below.

Porrusalda (Leek and Potato Soup)

Lead Photo: Simon Bajada