Posted by: Rachel | October 23, 2011

take a leek…

I requested the recipe for that mustard soup, but never heard back. Believe me, it is not always easy to recreate a recipe, especially one that you’re only enjoyed once. Still, I think this is fairly close to the original, in flavor and intent if not in specifics.

My version is heartier that what we shared, but that is because I was heading for a winter soup. I think it is very tasty, and very forgiving as far as morphing it into a vegetarian or vegan version. Mine, since I wasn’t planning on sharing it with my vegetarian or vegan friends this time, is a meaty delight. Mmmm…

The thing about leeks is that they are of the onion family in flavor, but far more delicate. I love them, and put them in all sorts of soups and stews, summer and winter. But they are dirty, or can be, and require some attention.

I don’t understand the finer points of leek farming, but the leeks I get here tend to be very sandy. I find that washing them once they are cut is very important, other wise you may end up with a hot gritty mess of unpalatable potage, a waste of time, money, and perfectly good ingredients. So… be warned!

I cut the leeks in rounds and soak them in cold water. The leeks float, the sand and grit sinks, I lift the leeks out with a slotted spoon and all is well.

soaking the leeks

the real nitty-gritty

Basically the only “horse’s mouth” info I got about this soup was that it contained cucumbers. One friend told me that this was impossible, as she does not like cucumbers but she loved this soup. Go figure. My version may not have anything to do with the original other than the cucumbers and the mustard, but I’m happy with it.

Again, I am basing my recipe on what I remember eating, what I like, and what I’m guessing may have gone into the original. I like mustard, so this appealed to me from the first slurp. I think you could go one step further and add a slice of toast with melted Gruyère or some kind of Swiss cheese, or just add cheese to the soup itself if you are looking for a gluten-free dinner.

In any event, if I do hear back and get the actual recipe, I’ll certainly share it. Until then, here is my take on

(almost as good as) Gerdi’s Mustard Soup

mid-cooking, not quite ready for the blender

can you smell it? mmm...

3 slices of bacon
1 bunch of leeks, chopped and washed
2 English cucumbers, peeled and chopped
3 or 4 yellow or white potatoes
4 C chicken or vegetable stock
1 C dry white wine
1/4 C Dijon mustard
salt to taste
toasted mustard seeds for topping

I was lucky enough to have a little bit of pancetta on hand, so I used that but bacon would be fine. Chop the bacon into bite-sized bits and cook it down in a large heavy Dutch oven. Remove the bacon, add the drained leeks and the cucumbers. Sauté for maybe 5 minutes, stirring to they don’t stick. Add the potatoes, the stock and wine. There should be enough liquid to cover all the vegetables.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are soft. Add the meat back in if you are using it. The meat version will want less salt, as the bacon is salty.

Purée the soup either with a stick blender or carefully in a blender. Add the mustard, blend again. Taste for salt. This soup will be better the next day, and will keep for a few days in the fridge. Top with toasted mustard seeds*, toast with cheese, or just enjoy! (Note: I didn’t bother seeding the cukes or peeling the potatoes. Do as you wish, of course!)

*Toast the mustard seeds as you would sesame seeds or pine nuts (remember when they were affordable?) in a skillet on the stove top. Do not over brown! Toasted mustard seeds are great on salads as well. Mmmm…


While I have your attention, a quick announcement: tomorrow (October 24th) is the first national “Food Day”. Pretty much every day is food day at my place, but I’m one of the lucky ones. Given that, take a minute to think about what you’re eating tomorrow, where it came from and what went into the making… you might be surprised! That’s it, no lecture or soapbox – eat well and play with your food!



  1. I don’t remember the mustard soup request post, my apologies. If it was from a restaurant you might want to send a letter to Bon Appetit or the LA TImes they both have a column getting recipes from restaurants for readers. In any case, this looks fantastic.

    • Thanks for the suggestions, but this is a soup I had while on vacation (over *there*)… I emailed the chef and we’ll see! (ever the optimist, I am…) Hopefully this’ll do in the meantime!

  2. I am going to make a soup every friday from now on.. this looks like a fine one to start with!! c

    • Enjoy! (It will taste even better on Saturday…)

  3. I have really enjoyed catching up with your posts that I missed while traveling to Europe. I absolutely love mustard, the spicier the better and can’t wait to try this soup.

    • And do you know what strikes me as amusing? We were closer geographically while we were both on vacation than we are now that we’re both back! Looks like your was wonderful too… loved seeing your pictures!

  4. What a gorgeous and original soup recipe. Will def be giving this one a go, probably using pancetta too as we can get that easily here.

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