Irish Leek and Oatmeal Soup

I have done separate posts in the past on leeks and on oats, each one with an attendant recipe from Scotland. Leeks and oats are both associated in general with Celtic people. The Irish, also being Celtic, are also fans of these ingredients. So the Irish leek and oatmeal soup given below is a very Celtic thing. This is an amazingly delicious soup—the milk and oatmeal combine to make it really thick and creamy, and leeks make it wonderfully flavorful. Enjoy.

Brotchán Foltchep

(Irish Leek and Oatmeal Soup)

3–6 leeks (depending on size; see Notes)

2 Tbs. butter

1/4 cup oatmeal (uncooked)

3 cups beef stock or broth

2 cups milk

pinch of ground mace

salt and pepper to taste

chopped parsley (optional)

Clean the leeks thoroughly (see notes). Slice the leeks in 1/2-inch slices (just the white and pale green section—as you move up the leek, you can remove outer layers, if they are dark and tough—but you’ll just be using the straight part of the leek, not the fanned-out top part).

Melt the butter in a large pot, add the leeks, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until leeks are soft but not brown. Sprinkle the oatmeal over the leeks and stir them together. Then add the stock and milk. Add a good pinch of ground mace, plus salt and pepper to taste. (If you use salted broth, you may not need much salt.) Simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish with parsley, if you wish. Serves. 4.

Notes: Leeks vary in size, even in the same store-packed bunch, so the number of leeks needed will vary. You need about 3 cups of sliced leek for this recipe (a little over is fine, but you don’t want much less). One really big leek, 1-1/2 inches or more in diameter, will come close to giving you one full cup of sliced leek. If leeks are smaller—say 1 inch in diameter or so—you’ll get about 2/3 cup or less. So buy accordingly.

Because of the way leeks are planted, they usually accumulate sand among the layers. Cut off the top of the leek (where it fans out). This dark-green part can be reserved if you’re making stock, but should be discarded if all you’re making is this recipe. Cut off the roots, then split the leek and rinse, separating layers slightly to make sure you get all the dirt.

I generally use 2-percent milk in this and get excellent results, but whole milk would be creamier—and more traditional.

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Filed under culinary history, Culture, Food, Recipes

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