Tag Archives: potatoes

From frosty leeks to hearty winter leek and potato soup

Post-Christmas we often turn to soup as a way of getting over the inevitable feeling of over-indulgence. For a home-grown homemade ingredient, this time of year is all about leeks for us in the Willow Cottage Garden. So rather inevitably soup du month is leek and potato.

This morning was one of those beautiful winter frosty mornings. Fantastic for walking the dog, but not so great for harvesting a couple of rows of leeks. I always find prepping leeks a bit of a faff to be honest, so prefer to do more han I need when I’ve got the time to do it. The frosty leaks were frozen through. They haven’t been looking so great this year either, but we had plenty for what I needed today.

Frost leeks

Frosty leeks


I use the spade to do some of the rough trimming of the roots and leaves which saves bringing any of the mud (and lumps of clay) into the house.

Leek trimmings

Leek trimmings, for the compost when I warm up


My hands were so frozen I’ve decided to leave these for when I’ve warmed up a bit and can pop them onto the compost heap.

Next up is cleaning the leeks up for cooking. I usually do this in the sink, and drop the trimmings straight into a bucket. 

Prepping leeks

Prepping the leeks


One thing I’ll never understand is how bits of mud work their way right into the leaves of the leek. It’s impo rant to get the mud out or you’ll end up with gritty soup!

Cleaning leeks

How does the mud get in here?


Onto cooking…
Ingredients (for serving 4-6)

Butter for softening onions and leeks

1 onion, diced

225g/8oz potatoes, cubed

2 medium leeks,sliced

1.2 litres/2 pints vegetable stock

150ml/5fl oz double cream, crème fraîche or a pinch of greated cheddar

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Homegrown leeks and onions

Homegrown leeks and onions


Method

1. Soften the leeks and onions in a pan. Add the potatoes and cook for three to four minutes.

Softening leeks

Softening leeks. I do this in a frying pan then add to the soup pot.

2. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Add seasoning and simmer until the potatoes are soft.

3. Blend the indregients together. Reheat and add the cream, crème fraîche or cheese to serve.

Leek and potato soup

Leek and potato soup, with cheddar cheese


Yum, and now I’ve warmed up, back to the garden!

Him

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Here’s my early May garden update

The hardening-off process is under way and I am twitchy to get everything planted in the garden. I need to really try to hold back as the nights are still cool. I know that, as the soil still feels cold, my carefully nurtured seedlings will not thrive when planted out, but just sulk instead. I really want to make room for the tomato plants in the greenhouse. Regular readers will know that my tomato plants are feeling better and are currently in the conservatory growing vigorously and threatening to turn my house into somewhere David Bellamy would feel at home.

Outside the garden is recovering from the chicken attack. I initially thought the chickens may have had my broad beans, but the hardy little chaps have survived a vigorous scratching and popped through the soil this week.

The grow bag strawberries are growing well in the fruit cage.

They are further on in the wheelbarrow. It’s tricky to see on the photo, but the wheelbarrow strawberries are covered in flowers. These have been with me for a few years but continue to produce a good crop every year. All I do is give them a mulch of homemade compost every spring. I think the old metal wheel barrow warms up in the sun and boosts the growth of these strawberries as they are always the first to crop.

My outdoor-sown peas have been unsuccessful this year. I have sown loads of pea seeds but they have suffered from chickens, weather and maybe even mouse damage. In this photo you may wonder what I am talking about as you can clearly see lots of growth…take a closer look and you will spot what I actually have is one pea growing and one potato plant growing! I have noticed a few potatoes growing in the pea patch. Ah well, I may just harvest these instead. I have started some peas in the greenhouse and I will try to fill in the gaps after they have hardened off.

I had a great tip from Promenade Plantings and I really wanted to try it out.   I have planted little broccoli plants inside my beanpole frame. The idea being that the growing beans protect the plants from pigeons and the broccoli plants can slowly grow over the summer. In autumn, the beans are taken down to reveal the hidden plants within that can then take centre stage.  I had a few spare plants and have nothing to lose so I am giving this a try. I will report back how it goes. Thanks again to Promenade Plantings for the great idea.

That’s about all for the garden. I am expecting it to start blooming in the next few weeks so until then….

Her x

The veggie patch has beanpoles…

As we are in the middle of the Easter hols I had low expectations of achieving much in the garden. With three tiddlers to entertain – it’s hard to find time for the mounting household chores, let alone the fun stuff in the garden.

So far, though,  I have been pleasantly surprised. If you have been reading my posts you will know that the flower garden is underway, the greenhouse is looking good and now, I am pleased to report, the veggie patch has bean poles.

Hubby collected these sticks a few years ago from the lovely people down at the Lower Woods nature reserve which looked after by the Avon Wildlife Trust. The woods there have been coppiced for thousands of years and now they sell coppiced bean poles and pea sticks for a very reasonable price – with the money going back into looking after the reserve.  The bean poles are traditional, local and much better-looking than bamboo canes. More importantly still – they’ve travelled a few miles rather than being shipped for thousands – which surely has to be more sustainable, even if they need replacing every few years.

Our poles are tied together at the top with garden twine and braced with extra supports along the ‘A’ shape. Last year we had a circular structure, this year we thought we’d grow them in a double-row with sweet peas intermingled. This should aid pollination and look pretty too. Personally I think veggie patches should be beautiful as well as productive.

Sounds silly I know, but there is something special about the appearance of the bean poles. Their arrival in the veg patch marks the changing season – the arrival of Spring propper – when my tiny shoots start to come of age.

Hubby also planted three rows of pink fir potatoes – my favourite – and I managed to put in broad beans, radish and more chive plants. It may not look much now but give it a few months….happy days!

Her x