I’ve recently come back from a short trip to South Wales, my ancestral homeland, if not one I’ve spent much time in. There are foods that the remnants of Welsh person in me just can’t get enough of. Cockles would be first and foremost on that list. If you don’t know what a cockle is think “clam” but a zillion times tastier. Welsh Cakes follow smoothly on with their austere tastiness. Brains Bitter is perfectly nice when drunk in Wales and Caerphilly cheese is the food of the (Welsh) Gods.
As autumn rolls into winter I have ever more reason to make and eat soup. The basic tradition throughout Wales is a perfectly good leek and potato soup, but South Wales takes that notion just a little bit higher with Leek and Caerphilly soup. The potato is still there, it just gets third billing. I’d sneak the Caerphilly up to star billing, but the Welsh do love their leeks.
Welsh Soup Ingredients
- 3 leeks
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cups diced potatoes – choose a floury kind for the best texture
- 1 cup Caerphilly cheese* crumbled
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream (optional)
*If you can’t get Caerphilly I feel sorry for you son. Try Wensleydale which is far more available now that Wallace and Grommit have declared it their favourite cheese. In the US I’ve seen “Wensleydale-style” cheese available at Amish supplied delis. You could opt for Cheshire at a push. Caerphilly is a pale crumbly cow’s cheese with creamy taste accented by a delicious salty-sour tang.
Welsh Soup Directions
- Slice up your leeks thinly into coins, taking care to ensure there’s no dirt in the rings.
- Chop your potatoes into 1/3″ cubes. Slightly smaller if you’d rather not liquidize your soup.
- Melt the butter in a soup pan and add the leeks, cooking for about five minutes to soften them up. Keep stirring to prevent any burn or sticking.
- Add the potatoes and stir around for a couple of minutes.
- Add the stock and bring to the boil.
- Add the pepper and nutmeg.
- Turn down and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes until the potato is soft.
- For a smooth soup zap with a stick blender or pop in a liquidizer until smooth.
- If you like your soup chunky skip that step.
- Add the cheese now crumbled super small and let it melt, stirring as you go.
- For extra creaminess add the creme fraiche or soured cream before serving.
- Top with toasted pita chips, or unflavoured tortilla chips for a bit of crunch.
Caerphilly is quite salty so do test before adding extra seasoning. The theory goes that Welsh miners and steel workers took the cheese in their sandwiches to work and the saltiness helped replace some of those salts lost during the hot and sweaty work.