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Leek and Mushroom Soup with Croutons

450 g Leeks; washed and trimmed (1lb)
175 g Button mushrooms; wiped and sliced (6oz)
1 Stick celery; scrubbed and chopped
1 Onion; peeled and chopped
55 g Unsalted butter; (2oz)
3 Sprigs fresh thyme; (3 to 4)
2 pt Water
300 ml Double cream; (1/2 pint)
Salt and ground black pepper

Croutons:
4 Thick slices white bread
1 Fat clove garlic
4 tb Olive oil; (4 to 5)

Wash, peel and slice the leeks, removing the dark green ends.

In a large heavy pan, melt the butter and sweat the prepared vegetables. Add the water, seasoning and thyme. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender.

Remove the thyme and discard. Liquidise the soup then pass through a coarse sieve to remove any stringy bits. Rinse the pan then return the soup to it and add the cream. Reheat the soup and adjust seasoning.

Remove the crusts from the bread. Cut the garlic clove in half horizontally and rub over the surface of the bread slices. Cut the bread into cubes.

Heat a heavy frying pan and add the oil. Heat until the oil is hazy then fry the bread cubes, turning them frequently until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve the soup in bowls with a sprinkling of croutons.


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