spinach and leek soup with lemongrass

Lindsey Bareham

Lemongrass is the secret of this surprising soup made with otherwise quite ordinary ingredients. It’s thickened with stale bread, quickly fried with crushed garlic, so there’s a snap of heat to complement the lemongrass, sweet leeks and spinach. The soup is pureed into velvety, pale green pleasure.

serves 4, prep 15 min, cook 30 min

1 small onion
1 lemongrass stalk
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
200g leeks
75g stale bread
1 garlic clove
1 litre hot vegetable or light chicken stock
200g baby spinach

Halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Crack the lemongrass, trim the ends and peel away the tough outer layers to locate a tender inner stem. Chop in small pieces. Melt the butter in the olive oil in a lidded pan over a medium-low heat, stir in onion and lemongrass and cook gently for a few minutes. Trim and slice the leeks in thin rounds. Agitate in cold water and drain. Dice the bread in small chunks. Crack the garlic, peel away the skin, chop then crush with a pinch salt to make a paste. Stir leeks into the softening onion with a pinch salt. Cover and cook, stirring once, for about 8 min.

Increase the heat slightly and stir garlic paste and bread into the leeks, stirring constantly. Add stock, bring to boil and simmer for 10 min. Push spinach under the liquid, return to boil then liquidise. Season to taste before serving now or later.