Masquerading as a giant scallion, leeks provide a mellow complexity to all kinds of foods. Leeks are not commonly found in typical American recipes, but have a long history in Europe. They play a central role in the cuisines of England and France, and as a part of the allium family, along with other onions and garlic, are chock full of flavor and health benefits.
While abundant in Vitamin A and K, the unique flavonoid and fiber components set leeks apart. The flavonoid kaempferol, found in leeks as well as arugula, endive and broccoli, has been researched for its’ powerful anti-cancer effects, as well as possible reduction in diabetes risk. Inulin is a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic, feeding the bacteria in the large intestine. In that role, they keep the colon walls healthy, provide immune benefits, slow digestion leading to weight maintenance and loss, and even help improve calcium absorption.
Leeks can replace many onions in recipes. They are milder than most onions, so work well when you want a little of the onion flavor without the bite. Leek stems and bulbs have many layers that tend to trap soil. Cutting the bulb and leaf in half exposes the insides for better cleaning. Slicing and sautéing leeks until soften creates a lovely aroma and pairs well with mushrooms, potatoes, eggs, and as the base of many soups.
Take a look at this Slow-Cooker Carrot Leek Bisque at Eating Well.
This recipe easily converts to a vegetarian or vegan soup by using vegetable stock and non-dairy milk, such as unsweetened soy or oat milk.