- Discard any damaged dark green leek leaves (or see tip, above right). Cut the rest into 1-2cm squares. Rinse well in a sieve, drain and set aside. Cut the white/light green parts of the leek lengthways, then slice into 1cm strips.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large, lidded saucepan over a medium heat. Add the lighter parts of the leeks, seasonwith a little salt and cook for 10 mins until well softened. Reduce the heat to low, add 400ml stock, then cover and simmer for 20 mins.
- Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Cut the bread into 2cm cubes, tip into a mixing bowl and toss with 2 tbsp water. If using, put the bacon pieces on a baking tray; bake for 5 mins. Add the bread and dark green leek parts, drizzle with the remaining oil and stir to coat. Bake for 15 mins, stirring a few times, until everything is crisp.
- Stir the garlic into the leek pan and cook, uncovered, for 5 mins. Mix the cornflour with 1 tbsp cold water and add to the pan with the rest of the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 mins to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream, mustard, cheese and nutmeg; season. Simmer for 2 mins, then divide between 4 bowls. Top with the bacon and leek croutons.
Tip: Store the soup and croutons separately in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Tip: Use leftover leek greens to make a bouquet garni, a seasoning packet for stocks and sauces that is removed before eating. Wrap rosemary, sage, thyme and bay leaves in a large piece of leek green: tie shut with non-plastic thread or twine. Simmer in stocks and soups, then discard once the flavours have been released. Leek greens can also be added to savoury crumbles, stir-fried and hashes, or sautéed and stirred through pasta.
Freezing and defrosting disclaimer
In order to enjoy optimum flavour and quality, frozen items are best used within 3 months of their freezing date. For more tips on freezing and defrosting food, read our article Love Your Freezer.
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