Leeks - what am I doing wrong?

I’ve recently become fond of adding leeks to my cooking. I love their mild flavour. I recently made a potato-leek soup that was absolutely divine. I loved it so much, I decided to make some for supper last night. I took out a leek I had just bought an hour earlier, trimmed, washed, cut lengthwise, and chopped, fried them up in a touch of oil for about ten minutes, then threw them in the soup - same as I had the first time I made the recipe.

Only this time… ugh. Gross! They were hard little chunks in our soup! Not pleasant at all. No, it wasn’t dirt, I cleaned them well. It was chunks of leek, hard and nasty.

Now, the only difference I can think of is that last time I bought a leek, it sat in the refrigerator, wrapped loosely in a plastic bag for almost a week. The taste of that one in the soup was smooth and mild, much like it was a very large green onion. Otherwise, it was trimmed and prepared in exactly the same way. My trimming method is to strip and trim the long, tough dark green leaves down to the light green, chop off the root and a chunk of the white base, slice lengthwise down the center and wash thoroughly.

Any ideas what happened? If I somehow managed to mistime the frying time, is that what would have happened if they were undercooked, perhaps? Did I get a rogue leek? Is any of what I mentioned above a big leek nono? Is there something I should be looking for when picking out leeks, and if so, what and how?

Oh, and naturally, I’ve been singing the song. :wink:

Personally, when I’m making soup with leeks (chickpea and leek soup. Mmmm), I sautee the hell out of them first and then build the soup around them. Then I let the soup cook until nothing in the liquid is identifiable. Then I hit it with the stab mixer :smiley:

I can’t fault anything you’ve done with the leeks so far, sauteeing them for ten minutes should have been enough to soften them, and then cooking in the soup should have softened them even further, so I don’t really know what it could have been.

Hrm. I have another leek sitting in the fridge that I’m a little afraid of. Will it lead to delicious leek-y goodness? Or horrible, horrible leek-y hardness? :frowning:

Guess I’ll give it another shot and see what happens…

I’ve never had any problems like you are describing. Undercooked maybe? A bad leek?

When I bought them last, I got my 11 year old son laughing by pointing out that we were taking a leek.

I got my 35-year-old self laughing when I made that joke the last time I was grocery shopping with supervenusfreak.

Anaseaseon, stop taking a leak in the kitchen. It’s really not good and it’s…quite frankly…gross.

Cut it out.


I make zeke luchini soup all the time, and I’ve never had this problem. I generally start by frying my leeks until they are most definitely soft and tender. 10 minutes is probably a minimum, depending on how many leeks are in the pot and what else is in there.

I use more than a touch of oil – 3T or more. And I stir constantly.

That’s bizarre. I can’t think of any reason you would have chunky leek. You sure it wasn’t undercooked potato in your soup? After sauteeing for ten minutes, even a leek did remain crunchy it a) wouldn’t be all that gross and b) would definitely soften while cooking in the soup.

I cook with leeks almost every week and I’ve never had one like you describe. My guess is you got an unripe one, or otherwise bad in some way. After 10 minutes of frying it should have been completely limp. Was it at all different in look or feel when you took it out of the pan and put it into the soup?

BAH! My Google-fu finally found something that might be relevant:

I didn’t check. It was a bit tougher to cut this time - I’d forgotten that until I read this. I remember grumbling at it, but I’d forgotten why (I’ve been stressed over lawyerical/immigrational issues, grrr - nothing bad, just frustrating). Heh. So it slipped my mind. Stressed and wielding a knife, not a good combination. :wink:

Anyway, I didn’t check for anything other than non-limp leeks when I bought them. I’m going to have to go squeeze the other to feel if maybe there’s a seed stalk growing.

Yes. Damnit. No wonder they were on sale. :frowning:

Sigh. Ah, well. Wiser now, I suppose. Is there anything I can do with the leafy bits?

I believe you can use the leaves to make stock - they’re too fibrous to actually eat.

Since we’re talking leeks, let me recommend a ridiculously simple recipe that tastes awesome.

Trim leeks, split lengthwise, and rinse thoroughly.
Steam leek halves for about ten minutes, until a knife tip pierces them easily.
Put on a plate, drizzle with EVOO, and add salt and pepper to taste.

They taste mild, faintly sweet, and have a creamy texture. YUM.