Leeks are part of a family called the Allium, containing its great cousins garlic, onions and shallots and chives. This family is well-known for its health benefits and its great if you try to include these in your diet everyday. Why? This family contains a unique group of flavonoids and sulfur containing compounds which have been linked to improved cardiovascular health and anti-inflammatory characteristics.
Interestingly, exposure to oxygen enhances the health benefits of leeks so slice them and set them aside for 5 minutes before cooking. Leeks contain some manganese and Vitamin C, which assist the anti-oxidant effects of leeks.
The best way to cook leeks, I think, it to cut thinly, sauté in a little water for 5 – 10 minutes or until soft and then serve. I often simply take off the heat and then stir in a little extra virgin olive oil as well for richness. I also like to use them as a base for some of my soups in the winter as they have such a great flavour.
- 6 leeks - finely sliced
- 3 medium parsnips - chopped
- 3 onions - roughly chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic - chopped
- 2 teaspoon of fennel seeds
- 1 tin of mung beans or two cups of dried mung beans
- 1 litre of chicken stock or boiling water
- Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
- Roast the fennel seeds in the dry saucepan first for a few minutes over a medium heat and then blitz them in a coffee grinder.
- Saute the onions in a little water for about 5 minutes until soft and translucent.
- Then add HALF the leeks and give them a good stir, adding the garlic and the fennel seeds.
- Saute for another 5 minutes and then add the parsnips, salt and pepper and the stock/water. Bring to boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes (depending on how big your parsnip pieces are).
- Meanwhile, wash the mung beans well under running water. If you are using dried, then transfer to a pot of boiling water and cook for about 15 minutes with a bay leaf. Once soft, drain and wash again under running water. If using tinned, simply leave aside once you have washed them.
- When the parsnips are soft, blitz with a blender. Then add the mung beans and left over leeks. Give them a good stir and let cook for another few minutes. Add a little more seasoning if necessary.
- This soup ends up quite green!!! Serve with some lovely toasted sour dough rye
- Wheat free, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free