I love leeks.
The national vegetable of Wales where I live they were brought to the UK by the Romans. Apparently they considered leeks such a superior vegetable with Emperor Nero eating so many he earned the nickname Porophagus, or leek eater! He thought that by eating leeks his singing voice would improve. Maybe there is something in this, as here in Wales we are renowned for excellence in singing.
A member of the allium or onion family, leeks impart an amazing layer of complexity to recipes especially soups, stews and other slow-cooking dishes.
Low in calories, high in fibre, high in Vitamin A, with vitamins C, Bs and essential minerals and many polyphenolic compounds they have a myriad of health promoting properties.
The anti-oxidant compound kaempferol is anti-inflammatory, supporting cardiovascular health by protecting blood vessels from damage by increasing production of nitric oxide helping blood vessels to dilate and relax.
Heart health is further supported by the presence of the terpene( a compound found in essential oils) d-limonene, usually found in the peel of citrus fruits. D-limonene is a promising lipid-lowering agent, which means it can help lower both triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels. It has also been shown to contain blood pressure-reducing properties.
As with all vegetables in the allium family, they are high in sulphur containing polyphenols which are released when slicing and chopping. These sulphur compounds can bind to toxins in the liver and help to eliminate them from the body thus supporting liver and hormonal health.
The anti-inflammatory benefits extend also to immune support, scavaging free radicals and preventing oxidative stress, protecting the lining of the stomach from gastric ulcers and chemo-preventive activity against breast and colorectal cancers.
I use leeks quite often in place of onions as I find the flavour naturally sweeter and richer. They are amazing simply pan-fried to add to omelettes, or as a side dish. But in soups they shine.
This recipe is really easy and so velvety and delicious. The addition of the butterbeans adds in extra protein and fibre making this a great soup for also aiding weight loss and in hormone balancing. The sweet miso paste adds in a beautiful umami flavour.
Recipe serves 4
1 large shallot, finely diced
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 organic carrot, finely diced
Tablespoon of garlic powder
4 large leeks, finely sliced
Tin or jar of organic butter beans
Approx 700ml of chicken or veg stock
2 tablespoons of sweet white miso paste
Tin of organic coconut milk
Sauté the shallot in ghee, or coconut oil, on a low to medium heat.
Add in the celery, carrot and garlic powder and combine well.
After a couple of minutes add in the leeks, butterbeans, stock and miso paste.
Simmer until all the veg and beans are cooked.
Add in the coconut milk at the end to prevent splitting.
Blend in a high speed blender until velvety.
I didn't add any garnish but you could drizzle some olive oil, a twist of black pepper and crispy fried leeks or some sourdough croutons.
Recipe created by Patricia Alexander-Bird, BSc, Dip NT, Certified Health and Wellness Coach, DUTCH Hormone testing practitioner and Yoga Teacher RYT200
Sun J. D-Limonene: safety and clinical applications. Altern Med Rev. 2007 Sep;12(3):259-64. PMID: 18072821.