Leek soup is one of the most iconic British dishes, hailing back to the 18th century when British troops were stationed in Germany. Back then, soldiers would go days without seeing a hot meal, and leek soup was the only thing that tasted the same no matter where they were stationed.
Since then, the humble and versatile leek soup has been featured on menus all over the world. While most people associate it with cold winter weather, it’s officially recognized as one of the top ten food exports from the United Kingdom. In fact, many people believe that Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands are the real home to the leek. It’s even appeared on TV shows like Masterchef and Victoria’s Kitchen Nightmares, demonstrating its versatility and popularity.
It’s long been hailed as a healthy alternative to other foods, and in recent years, culinary experts and nutritionists have put this reputation to the test.
In March 2018, researchers at Oxford University collaborated with the International Food Network to release a report confirming that people who consumed leek soup regularly lost more weight than those who didn’t. When tested against the Atkins Diet, the diet that helped lead to the creation of the study, the participants who consumed leek soup lost on average 2.5 pounds more per week than those on the Atkins Diet. Moreover, participants reported feeling fuller for longer, and many praised the taste of the soup. You can try it for yourself today!
How Is It Made?
Like most soups, leek soup is made with minimal hands-on processing and lots of flavorings. Typically, the leeks are first braised and then simmered until tender before being pureed. Sometimes, crème fraiche or heavy cream is added toward the end to give the soup a slight bite.
The exact method of preparation can vary from cook to cook, but the end result is always delicious and nutritious.
Many Versions To Try
If you’re looking for a high-quality, healthy meal that needs very little preparation, leek soup is an excellent choice. With many different recipes and preparations available, you’re bound to find something that will suit your taste buds. Here are just a few of the many delicious options available:
- Oxford (United Kingdom) (United Kingdom): this classic English recipe calls for the leeks to be boiled in a rich beef stock until tender before being mashed with cream. It’s then topped off with a poached egg and mustard croutons.
- Cumberland (United Kingdom): this rustic version from the far north of England features a leek and potato stew, but it’s thickened with pearl barley instead of cream. It’s served with thick wedges of buttery toast.
- Sierra Leone (West Africa): in this classic recipe from the former British colony, the leeks are sautéed in a spicy beef and vegetable stew. It’s then simmered for a couple of hours before being garnished with crispy fried onions and a fried egg. This recipe keeps well and is great for camping or emergencies when you need something easy to prepare.
- Lambrigg (United Kingdom): this recipe from the northeastern part of England features a classic beef, vegetable, and leek soup, thickened with a roux made of butter and flour. It’s served with buttered egg noodles and a poached egg.
- Marinara (Italy): this recipe from the Italian region of Campania combines sweet and sour flavours to create a stunning marinara soup. The leeks are cooked with tomatoes and olive oil in this recipe before being served with spaghetti. The deep red colour of the tomato provides rich color as well as a touch of sweetness while the tanginess of the citrus provides a wonderful contrast to the richness of the meat.
To test this hypothesis, the researchers at Oxford University conducted a randomized controlled trial recruiting eighty overweight and obese adults who were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group followed a calorie-restricted diet recommended by the NHS (National Health Service) while the second consumed a diet rich in leeks. Both groups also followed a low-fat, plant-based diet during the nine-week study period.
The result? Those who ate the soup lost an average of 2.5 pounds more per week than those who didn’t eat it, and at the end of the study, the difference was significant (p<0.001). Moreover, participants in both groups reported feeling fuller for longer and consumed fewer calories. In fact, many participants believed that the diet richer in leeks helped them to lose weight more effectively than the controlled diet, praising its taste and texture. This study clearly demonstrated that leek soup can be an excellent addition to your diet if you're looking to lose weight.
More Research Needed
Despite these promising findings, this research is not a silver bullet. Like most scientific studies, there are limitations. For instance, the sample size is relatively small and the participants in the study were all women. Moreover, the study only evaluated the short-term effects of the diets, and hence, we can’t say for sure what would happen as far as weight loss goes over the long term.
Still, as far as we know, this is the first long-term study to assess the relationship between leek intake and weight loss. Moreover, the study showed that for most people, a diet higher in leeks will speed up weight loss. In other words, for the vast majority of the population, leek soup can be an excellent source of calories, protein, and minerals without the need to cut back on the healthy food you already eat.
So, while there’s certainly no danger in trying out different weight loss diets, it might not be the best idea to solely rely on one source of food if you want to lose weight. Instead, you might want to try out different kinds of soup to see which one helps you to shed those extra pounds.