Leek soup is a classic and traditional French dish that is often served as a starter or as the main course. The base of the soup is usually onion, leeks, and celery with a broth made from beef, chicken, or vegetable stock.
It’s a very versatile dish because you can use whatever you have on hand to make the soup. You can swap out the leek for celery, potato, mushrooms, chives, parsley, green beans, carrots, bell peppers, and garlic.
If you’ve never cooked with leeks before, you may be wondering what you should substitute for them.
Don’t worry, I got you covered.
11 Substitutes for Leeks in Soup
If you don’t like the taste of leeks, then there are still ways that you can make your soup recipes taste delicious. You can follow this guide for how to substitute leeks in any recipe.
Use any of the following in place of leeks:
1. Onion – White, yellow, or red onions
If you’re looking for a different way to spice up your soup, then try subbing in onions instead of leeks.
Onions offer much more flavor than their lighter green counterparts and they work especially well when cooked with stocks or other liquids that will turn them transluscent at the edges while cooking down towards somewhat thinner slices (as seen below).
You can substitute any type: white, yellow/relishd, or red onions.
2. Shallots – Finely diced
Shallots are much like their oniony counterparts except that they contain more sulfur than onions – making them spicier in taste.
Their slightly sharp, spicy flavor makes them great for many dishes and in soups they won’t get too soft and mushy if you add them towards the end of the cooking time.
3. Garlic – To taste
Garlic has a much stronger flavor than leeks, but it can still be used as a substitute in soup recipes.
Just remember to add it towards the end of the cooking time or it will get too soft and lose its strong flavor.
4. Chinese chives – About two cups, finely sliced
Chinese chives are a type of garlic chive that is long and hollow with a mild onion taste.
They make an excellent addition to any soup because they will soften and wilt as they cook without losing too much of their flavor.
5. Scallions – About two cups, finely sliced
Scallions have a much milder flavor than chives, but they’re still a good alternative to leeks.
If you want the soup to be as oniony as possible, then just substitute in scallions for the leeks altogether.
6. Parsley – About one cup
Parsley is a great substitute for leeks because it has a very mild flavor that will complement most soups.
It’s also an herb, so it can be used as a garnish after you’ve cooked the soup to add some color and spice to your dish.
7. Celery – About two cups, finely sliced
Celery is much like leeks in that it has a mild flavor and can be used in almost any dish.
The only downside is that you’ll need to add the celery towards the end of cooking time or it will get too soft and mushy.
8. Fennel – Two bulbs, finely sliced
Fennel is a great vegetable to use as a substitute for leeks. It’s very mild and almost sweet tasting, but it can also be used as a garnish to add some color and zest to your dish.
Just remember that if you’re going to cook the fennel first, then you’ll need to add it towards the end of cooking or it will get too mushy.
9. Turnips – One turnip, cubed and blanched for two minutes
Turnips can be used as a substitute for leeks, but I personally don’t recommend it because they won’t soften much when cooked and their flavor is very strong.
You might end up with lots of chunks in your soup that are too hard to eat.
10. Carrots – One carrot, chopped
Carrots make a good substitute for leeks because they’re very mild and can be used in almost any type of dish.
The downside is that you’ll need to add the carrots towards the end of cooking time or they will get too soft.
Potatoes will soften when cooked, but they offer a different texture than leeks that could go well with your soup recipe.
You can use any type of potato to substitute leeks, though I wouldn’t recommend using red potatoes because their flavor will overpower the other ingredients in your dish.
5 Tips When Choosing A Substitute For Leeks
Since it’s no easy task to find a suitable substitute for leeks, I decided to give you five simple tips that will help you find the best replacement for this versatile vegetable.
- Look at the recipe’s flavors & seasonings to find a vegetable that will complement your dish instead of overpower it.
- If you’re not sure if your substitute will provide the same flavors as leeks, then start with just one or two tablespoons until you can test out how it tastes in soup before adding more.
- An alternative might be to add your vegetable at the same time as your leeks, so you can get a feel for what the final flavor of the dish will be like if you skip using them altogether.
- If you need to use up vegetables in your fridge before they go bad, then substitute in something that you already have.
- Once you’ve found a replacement for leeks that you like, then always make note of it so you can use it again in the future!
This list of substitutes for leeks is by no means complete, so please share your personal tips and tricks for using an alternative when making soup in the comments section down below.
And if you think we forgot a vegetable or need more information about one of the substitutions here, let us know and we’ll write a follow-up article as soon as possible!
11 Substitutes for Leeks in Soup
- Onion – White, yellow, or red onions
- Shallots – Finely diced
- Garlic – To taste
- Chinese chives – About two cups, finely sliced
- Scallions – About two cups, finely sliced
- Parsley – About one cup
- Celery – About two cups, finely sliced
- Fennel – Two bulbs, finely sliced
- Turnips – One turnip, cubed and blanched for two minutes
- Carrots – One carrot, chopped
- Pick any of these substitutes for leeks in soups.
- Prepare the substitute according to your own needs.
- Be ready to serve in no time!