This healthy potato leek soup with orzo is thick and creamy without cream – or even milk! Orzo gets added to the soup near the end of cooking for a hearty addition to this easy soup recipe.
It’s hard to argue with a warming, hearty bowl of soup on a chilly night. Especially when it’s on the healthier side, at that.
This healthy potato leek soup with orzo is comprised of simple ingredients there’s a good chance you already have in your kitchen. Except for the leeks, which I’ll be honest, I rarely cook with outside of potato leek soup. Here though they add a mellower onion-ish flavor that pairs wonderfully with potatoes, broth, and simple spices.
Despite looking like massive green onions (they’re in the same plant family), leeks have a milder flavor. Which is good, because have you ever added too many green onion slices to something? Whoo boy. 😝
Creamy yet healthy potato soup isn’t anything new around here, as this potato and white bean soup with kale has proven to be a reader favorite. It’s one of my favorites, too.
Let’s talk about the leeks. When buying leeks from the store, ideally you’ll want to choose leeks with the largest white and light green sections, as that’s the area you’ll be cooking with. Leeks require a little bit of prep work to get them ready for cooking, and I start by slicing the leeks unwashed.
After slicing off the dark green part and the very bottom bit, you’ll be left with the light green and white part of the leek. Slice this part in half lengthwise. You’ll notice each half features a bunch of layers. Placing the cut side down, slice each half into thin sections and place in a large bowl of cold water.
Once all of the leek slices are in the bowl, separate out each slice with your hands and gently shake the pieces in the water to wash away any dirt that was hanging out between the layers. Once all separated, lift out the leeks and place them on another dish to pat dry.
Doing it this way (versus pouring everything out through a strainer) helps ensure the dirt remains settled on the bottom of the bowl and doesn’t make its way in with the sliced leeks.
Getting the leeks ready thankfully takes the most prep work out of all of the ingredients. As for the potatoes, I’m partial to using yellow (or gold) potatoes in this healthy potato leek soup as I find they add an extra bit of richness, however you can totally use whichever variety of potatoes you like in soups. Russets would work just fine.
Either chicken or vegetable broth works here, with vegetable ensuring this soup is entirely vegetarian.
When compared to staples on the rest of the ingredient list (olive oil, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper), orzo is a less-than-traditional addition to potato leek soup but provides a nice change of pace as far as the consistency goes. You can certainly omit it if you’re not feeling it, but I find it gives an otherwise thick-and-creamy but homogenous soup some welcome texture.
Begin by slicing and washing the leeks, then setting them in a soup pot over medium heat to saute in olive oil. Then add the onion, then the garlic. Once those are golden, add the broth and cubed potatoes and raise the heat to medium-high. We want to get the soup going to a nice boil/simmer to tenderize the potatoes. This will take around 20 minutes.
One of the main VIPs of this potato leek orzo soup recipe comes in handy next, which is an immersion blender.
For years I’ve been transferring hot soup one ladle at a time to my blender to puree, and then being annoyed that I created more dishes for myself to wash. And not just any dishes but the blender, which ranks up there with that huge pastry mat with the circle measurements and cooling racks as the worst kitchen items to wash. An immersion blender (affiliate link) solves that dilemma.
Once blended and creamy, add the dry orzo and cook according to package directions (usually around 10-11 minutes). Then you’re ready to serve!
A word about the orzo. There’s a case to be made for cooking pasta in a separate pot before adding it into a pot of soup. I believe this maneuver is intended to prevent the pasta from absorbing too much of the soup liquid and getting big and mushy, especially in leftover portions.
Truthfully here I don’t mind the super-sized orzo in leftover soup. It’s not competing with anything else in this soup as it’s the only ingredient giving it texture. Plus it’s hard not to oppose dirtying yet another pot unless it’s heavily warranted!
Blended soups are some of my favorites to make at home as they achieve a thick and creamy consistency with pretty healthy ingredients.
This creamy-without-cream celery soup uses up one whole bunch of celery and really does taste fancier than the ingredients list might suggest. Tempering in Greek yogurt makes this soup super creamy in a healthy way.
ALL of the vegetables in this recipe gets roasted before being pureed into warm and cozy roasted butternut squash soup. Lots of herb combinations work for this one, but I’m partial to sage and thyme.
- After you blend the soup, add the seasonings below, or to taste. I kept it simple with salt and pepper, but feel free to add whatever spices you like.
Healthy Potato Leek Soup with Orzo
- 3 large leeks
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth, (see note)
- 1 lb yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4" cubes (roughly)
- 1 ¼ tsp salt, to taste
- ¾ tsp ground black pepper, to taste
- ¾ cup dry orzo pasta
- Chopped parsley for garnish
- First prep the leeks. Cut off the dark green tops and the very root ends, leaving the lighter green and white part. Cut that part in half lengthwise. Slice each half into thin pieces and place the pieces in a large bowl.
- Fill the bowl with cold water and break up the leek slices with your hands, sloshing them around the bowl to remove any dirt.
- Remove the leek pieces to a separate bowl or plate with a strainer or your hands and pat them dry.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a soup pot set over medium heat. Add leeks and saute for 5 minutes, occasionally stirring them around.
- Then add remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then diced onion. Saute for 3-4 minutes or until onion becomes slightly golden.
- Add minced garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes.
- Pour in broth and raise heat to medium-high. Stir in cubed potatoes.
- Once soup reaches a boil, lower heat and simmer soup for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
- Blend soup until creamy, either using an immersion blender or by carefully transferring batches of the soup to a blender and returning to the soup pot over medium heat.
- Once soup has been blended, add salt and pepper to taste. Add orzo and cook for 10-11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until orzo is tender.
- Serve with chopped parsley.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.
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