I’m running out of things to do with the leek. This is usually a problem confined to the carrot (a guaranteed muddy staple from Riverford), but this year the allium just keeps popping up, like an annoying but affectionate child, in my veg box.
So to use up the old leeks (almost two week old bendy things), the order of the day is a big vat of Nigel Slater’s leek and parmesan soup - once made, stored in the freezer and to be brought out on grey days like these. Sometimes I warm it up gently and drop in small cubes of double gloucester cheese that will melt in the residual heat so glorious yellowy-orange goo will grace each spoonful.
And yesterday, a new batch of leeks arrived - alert, erect and standing to attention. Little needs to be done with them - a quick fry will keep their sweetness and a slight crunch. A gorgeous lunch for one.
New leeks: with Butter and Lemon
So, after a cursory wash, and a rough chop of two leeks into thick rings, melt a slice of butter until foaming in a hot frying pan, and throw the leeks in. Coat the rings in butter, and leave to fry on high heat - only stirring occasionally - you want the leeks to catch and brown at the edges. When they’re just cooked (but still crunchy), squeeze lemon, season with salt and eat immediately. For a treat, spoon in cream cheese - it’s totally unnecessary but so delicious.
Old leeks: Nigel Slater’s velvety soup with Parmesan
Melt a slice of butter, and gently soften 3 leeks chopped into rings in a covered cast iron pan for 20 minutes. Add a peeled potato chopped into chunks, and cook for another five minutes. Add leftover Parmesan cheese rinds, and pour in 1.5 litres of veg stock. Season, then leave to bubble gently for under an hour, leave partially covered.
Take out the cheese rinds, (get as much Parmesan as you can from them), and blend until smooth. Add whatever grated cheese you would like in it, reheat and serve with crusty bread.
Adapted from Nigel Slater's the Kitchen Diaries
Previous leek risotto recipe here.