Neep-a-Leekie Soup

Late January in Scotland means Burns’ night. From a catering point of view, this means haggis, neeps, tatties and whisky. For those who don’t know, ‘neeps’ is the Scots term for swede – the large turnip-like vegetable that goes orange when cooked. This year, we hosted a Burns’ night supper for a few friends, but overdid it a bit with the quantity of food. I can confirm that leftover haggis is delicious in a sandwich, making a filling and decadent lunch. But what do you do with an entire (leftover, uncooked) swede?

I always thought I disliked neeps, but have recently realised that it is the perfect partner for haggis. I love haggis – it is hearty, rich and heavily spiced – and the sweetness of mashed neeps provides the perfect counterpoint. When eaten on the same fork, they balance each other out beautifully. Rather than buying yet more haggis to eat with the leftover swede, I decided to turn it into a slightly spicy soup. This is essentially a variation on leek and potato soup, but the substitution of neeps for potatoes produces a bowlful of custard-coloured, creamy, spicy goodness. Perfect for lunch on a chilly Saturday.

Neep-a-leekie soup

One swede – approx 500g

Leeks – one large or two small

Vegetable or chicken stock – 1500ml

Chilli flakes – ¼ tsp, or to taste

Double cream – a couple of tablespoons

Slice the leeks and wash them in a colander. Place in a large pan.

Peel the swede carefully using a large knife – a vegetable peeler isn’t quite strong enough for the job. Chop into smallish chunks (approx 2cm dice) and add to the pan.

Add the stock to the pan with the chilli flakes, stir and bring to the boil. Cover, and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes, until the swede is tender.

Blend the soup. You will probably need to do this in two batches. Return to the pan, add the cream, reheat gently and serve.


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