St. Paddy’s Day Inspiration: Irish Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek SoupIt’s that time of year when I gently remind Tony that there is another cultural heritage to be celebrated in our family. I’m a classic blend of North Dakotan ancestry with German – both from Germany and from Russia – on one side, and Norwegian on the other. But, lucky for me and our son, Gio, both sides also have a healthy dose of Irish, and each March we get downright giddy about that. We like to celebrate our Irish-ness all month long, and this week we’re kicking off the festivities with Irish Potato Leek Soup.

This is a very simple recipe with just a few ingredients, and the result is comforting and delicious. Russet (or Idaho) potatoes are perfect for this soup, but we’ve also used Yukon Golds which bring color and extra creaminess to the dish. In Ireland as well as here at home, there is a love and passion for potatoes that translates neatly into soup, especially when paired with leeks, another favorite among the Irish.

Idaho potatoes (2) (640x320)

Leeks are a member of the allium family, which also includes onions and garlic. With their unique combination of flavonoids, vitamins and minerals, Alliums are believed to help boost immunity and are a valuable addition to a healthy diet.

The Irish firmly believe in their healing properties, due in large part to a legend about St. Patrick consoling a dying woman. When she shares with him her vision of being healed by an herb, he asks her to describe what it looked like and she tells him that it resembled marsh rushes. St. Patrick leaves and comes back with some rushes, which he then transforms into leeks. The woman eats the leeks and is healed, and the leek is forever immortalized in Irish cuisine.

Leeks have two harvest seasons, winter and summer, and can be easily found in our local markets. They have a milder, more delicate flavor than regular onions or scallions, which makes them a wonderful choice for this soup. Potato leek soup can be found across cultures, and other popular versions include the chilled vichyssoise found in French cuisine, as well as Scotland’s classic cock-a-leekie soup.


The leeks will have some grit inside the leaves, so it’s important to clean them before using. Use a sharp knife to slice them in half lengthwise, from top to bottom, and then fan the leaves out while rinsing under cold water to remove any grit. Once washed, remove the top green leaves and root end and cut into ¼’ inch slices.

The soup will be pureed so the slices don’t have to be pretty, but they should be of consistent size to ensure even cooking, and the garlic cloves can be left whole. We use chicken stock for extra flavor, but vegetable stock or even water may be used instead. Heavy cream is essential to this soup, as it brings a boost of flavor and velvety finish to the soup. To ensure a smooth and creamy texture, Tony encourages you to “blitz the heck out of it” with your handheld or liquid blender.

Potatoes are such a neutral flavor that this soup can be garnished with a variety of toppings, including fresh chives, crumbled bacon, sautéed leeks, fresh herbs, or brightly colored microgreens, as featured today.

March has come in like a lamb and may go out like a lion, but with the luck of the Irish on our side and the comfort of Irish potato leek soup, we’re ready for anything. Erin go bragh!

Enjoy these other Irish-inspired recipes from previously featured posts:

Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur
Poached Salmon in Leek Cream Sauce
Baileys Irish Cream Cheesecake


Cooking Video: Sarello’s Red Curry Scallops

This week on North Dakota Today Tony showed the viewers how to make our Signature Sarello’s Red Curry Scallops. We featured this recipe on the blog and in our column a year ago, and you can CLICK HERE to read the article or HERE for the recipe.

CLICK on the PHOTO BELOW to watch Tony’s video presentation, and then let us know if you have any questions or comments – we LOVE to hear from our readers!

Thanksgiving Prep: Our Top 8 Things To Do THIS Weekend…

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and early preparation is the KEY to a successful holiday for your guests AND YOU. Below is our list of the Top 8 things to get done during the weekend before Thanksgiving. We hope our suggestions will help you get and stay organized during the crazy lead-up to Turkey Day.

This weekend:

  1. Make a list of all the foods you’re preparing and write down the serving dishes and utensils each dish will require. Check your inventory and purchase any items you may need.
  2. Plan which LINENS (tablecloth, napkins, etc.) you will be using, and wash/iron them this weekend or purchase new ones if needed.
  3. Check your storage container and plastic bag inventory and stock up if necessary.
  4. Clean out your refrigerator and pantry to make sure you have ample room to store the ingredients and completed dishes.
  5. Review your recipes, prepare your grocery list and do most of your shopping this weekend.
  6. Check the timing for each recipe to determine what can be done in advance, and schedule the time on your calendar for each recipe.
  7. If you plan to buy a frozen turkey, it has to be purchased this weekend to allow ample time for thawing. You’ll need about 1 pound of uncooked turkey for each guest.
  8. Check out my Top Ten Turkey Tips, Thawing Guidelines, Wine Pairings, and Recipes, and be sure to let us know HOW DO YOU GOBBLE? by taking our poll on the right side of this page!

How To Make Perfect Whipped Potatoes – Every Time

Very few foods say comfort like real Whipped Potatoes do; in fact, they ooze comfort. Out of all the wonderful dishes we’ve served at Sarello’s over the past thirteen years, our whipped potatoes have remained a staple on our menu, and a favorite among our guests. Our whipped potatoes are so consistently good that, for many years, a certain well-known potato farmer has enjoyed joking with Tony that they must be made from instant potatoes.

Whipped (or mashed) potatoes are a common dish on many holiday tables, and each year at this time we receive an influx of requests for our recipe. With only four ingredients, there’s nothing complicated or unusual about our recipe, but a few extra steps along the way will ensure an excellent outcome, every time. This is what Tony calls “adding the love.”

We use Idaho (Russet) potatoes at the restaurant, which are usually large, up to one pound each, with brown skin and white flesh. They have a high starch content and are low in moisture, which makes them ideal for mashing or baking. The drier texture of the Idaho potatoes when cooked will result in fluffier whipped potatoes.

Once the potatoes are cooked, we come to another important step. After draining the potatoes, we return them to the stock pot and continue to cook them over medium-high heat for about ten minutes to cook off the excess moisture. This ensures that the potatoes are as dry as possible so that they will fully absorb the cream and butter.

If you’ve ever made whipped potatoes, you’re already aware that heavy cream and butter are key components in this dish. We hate to say it, but for really flavorful, fluffy potatoes, the more cream and butter in the dish, the better. For this recipe, be sure to use unsalted butter and real cream, not milk or half and half.

We always warm up the cream and butter before adding them to the cooked potatoes, so as not to shock the potatoes. First, mix the butter, cream and salt together in a small pot over medium-low heat, until all the butter has melted and the ingredients are fully incorporated. Next, add this mixture to the potatoes, in stages, as they are being whipped.

Once the potatoes are ready, use a mixer with the whip attachment, which works better to incorporate air into the potatoes so that they are fluffy, light, and smooth – and ready to melt in your mouth.

To make whipped sweet potatoes, follow the same recipe but add a half-cup of light brown sugar and one tablespoon of ground cinnamon when melting the butter and cream mixture.

A good rule when planning your menu is to allow about one half-pound of potatoes per person. I’d take that one step further and add two or three more potatoes to account for leftovers. I have fond memories of my mother making potato croquettes for breakfast from our leftover whipped potatoes.

The cold potatoes can be formed into balls or patties, then dredged in an egg-wash followed by plain or panko breadcrumbs, and fried over medium-high heat until golden brown and completely heated through. The oil in your pan should come up to about half the height of the croquettes.

If you’re looking for more recipes, turkey tips and ideas, we invite you to check out our THANKSGIVING 101 section and feel free to contact us with any questions.

Sarello’s Classic Whipped Potatoes

Serves: 10 to 12

6 Idaho potatoes, peeled ( approximately 5 to 6 pounds, or a ½-pound per person)
1 stick butter, unsalted
2 ½ cups heavy cream (whipping cream 35%)
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Fill a large stock pot with plenty of water and boil the peeled potatoes over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 60 minutes. Use a set of tongs to check for doneness by squeezing a few of the potatoes, which should break apart when done.

Strain the potatoes over the sink, and return them to the stock pot. Continue to cook over medium-high heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally with a spoon. This will remove any excess moisture.

Transfer the potatoes to a mixing bowl and use the whip attachment or beaters, on a medium-high setting, to whip the potatoes. As this occurs, heat the cream, butter and salt in a sauce pan over medium heat, until the butter is melted, about five to seven minutes, stirring constantly.

Reduce mixer to low speed and slowly add the warm cream and butter mixture to the potatoes in several stages, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Once all the liquid is added, turn mixer to high and whip for 2 to 4 minutes until smooth and fluffy. Check for seasoning and adjust to taste.

To store: Cover with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to three days.

Tony’s Tips:

  • To make whipped sweet potatoes, follow the above recipe but add a half cup of light brown sugar and one tablespoon of ground cinnamon when melting the butter.
  • To ensure leftovers, add 2 to 3 potatoes to this recipe.
  • For smaller groups, simply halve the recipe.
  • To make potato croquettes from leftover whipped potatoes, simply form them into balls or patties, dredge in egg-wash then plain or panko breadcrumbs, and fry in oil over medium-high heat until golden brown and heated through. The oil in your pan should come up to about half the height of the croquettes.