Don't Skip Gremolata In Your Next Batch Of Potato Leek Soup

When the weather begins to shift from summer to the crisp bite of fall, there is nothing quite like a bowl of potato leek soup to fill bellies and warm spirits. A debated but classic staple of French cuisine, this soup combines the waxy heft of potatoes with the mild onion flavor of leeks, bringing them together in a wonderfully delicious concoction. However, if you're looking to take your potato leek soup up a notch, you might want to consider bringing in some Italian flair in the form of gremolata.

A relative of the more well-known pesto, gremolata is, at its core, a combination of three simple ingredients: chopped parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. Intended to bring an acidic, spicy vibrance to richer dishes, gremolata has historically been used as a garnish on pastas, osso buco, beef stew, and even mixed in with meatballs. Instead of being pounded into a paste, gremolata is a chopped garnish that is highly adaptable to a wide range of variations. You could use any number of ingredients — more herbs or citrus, even chiles and breadcrumbs — to make a version that will fit your dish. 

With potato leek soup, however, you don't want to shy too far away from the traditional recipe. Adding a garnish of gremolata to your potato leek soup is a surefire way to bring herby complexity and acidic vibrancy to an already rich and wonderful soup.

An herbaceous lift

The traditional combination of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic will bring brightness, an allicinous bite, and herby freshness to the creamy soup. However, you needn't be totally limited by the original recipe. Many other herbs and spices can elevate the richness of potato leek soup, so why not use them to (ever so slightly) tweak the classic gremolata recipe? 

Thyme and sage can make great additions to your gremolata; each has the savory earthiness and peppery bite that bring out the flavors in leeks and potatoes. And if you don't want to just chop them into the parsley base, you could deep fry the herbs to intensify their flavor and add a bit of textural complexity to the soup. So, while it is by no means a requirement, the next time you make a potato and leek soup, mix up some gremolata to serve as a garnish. The flavor it brings to the table and the balancing act it plays between richness and lightness really amps up the soup's flavor in a way few other garnishes can.