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Dill weed (Recipe: leek, potato and salmon soup)

Leek, potato and salmon soup.

Five years ago, Ted and I rebuilt the front path to our house and created a much larger space for growing herbs and perennials.

Our garden has it all: plenty of sun, plenty of mulch, plenty of water and homemade compost. For the most part, the deer leave it alone, though they occasionally nibble the parsley, and rabbits munch on the strawberries.

Without interference, however, we grow sage, rosemary, thyme, anise, lemongrass, horseradish. Oregano. Lavender. Tarragon. Chives. Perennials and annuals.

Yes, we have it all. All except dill weed.

Every year I put in three plants. Every year they fail. Sometimes it's a slow death, sometimes a quick bolt. The end is never pretty.

Thank goodness for friends with greener thumbs, and for good quality dried dill weed, which I now keep on my spice rack in the winter months.


Native to Central Asia, dill is a member of the parsley family, which makes me wonder why year after year I grow the most robust and delicious parsley in my herb garden, yet I'm such a failure with dill. The fresh fronds, which have a sweet taste, are popular in the cuisines of Scandinavia (gravlax), Russia (borscht), Germany (pickles), and Iran (sabzi polo).

Dried dill weed is a poor substitute for fresh, except in dishes that require long cooking. Be sure to buy from a market or supplier with a lot of turnover; I rely on Penzeys, and buy in small quantities.

I'm already planning where in the garden to put my dill plants this summer. You know what they say: if at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

Leek, potato and salmon soup

Today is St. David's Day, honoring the patron saint of Wales. (I learned this from Ted, who comes from Welsh stock.) Leeks are one of the traditional foods served on this day. Be sure to set your table with daffodils, the official flower of Wales. Serves 4.


1 bunch of leeks (2-3 large), white part only, root removed
2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
12 medium red-skinned potatoes, eyes removed, cut into quarters
1-1/2 tsp dried dill weed
1-1/2 qts chicken stock, homemade or store-bought (I use Swanson 99% Fat Free)
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1/2 lb salmon fillets, skin removed


Clean the leeks: Make a slit lengthwise through all the layers of the leek. Then chop crosswise into one-inch pieces. Place all of the pieces in a large bowl, and fill the bowl with cold water. Agitate the leeks for a minute with your hands, to dislodge any dirt clinging to the pieces, then let them sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. The dirt will settle to the bottom of the bowl.

In a large soup pot, heat 2 Tbsp of oil and add the onion. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until the onions are translucent and soft but not beginning to brown. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes to soften the leeks. Add the potatoes, dill and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft when pierced with the tip of a knife.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until  it is smooth (or leave it a bit chunky, to your taste). If you don't have an immersion blender, puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Return the soup to the pot, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil. Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the salmon skin side down in the pan, and cook for 5 minutes without moving the fish. Turn and cook fish on the other side for 5 minutes, then flip it again so the skin side is facing down. Cook for an additional 2 minutes or until the fish is almost cooked through.

Reheat the soup. Break the fish into large chunks, and distribute among 4 individual serving bowls. Pour hot soup around the fish, and serve.

[Printer-friendly recipes.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Fregula sarda with leeks and sausage
Stuffed cabbage
Countertop dill pickles
Polenta with braised wild mushrooms
Thai tofu and winter squash stew

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St David's Day with leeks . . . I like that, we'll be having pizza with leeks. Think that would work?
I" pick some daffodils for the table ;)

I'd love this soup on this snowy Sunday.


Happy St. David's Day! I remember the first time we cooked together was also on St. David's Day -- and you brought Daffadils to the party.

Interesting about Dill weed -- to me, it's one of the few herbs (along with tarragon) that when dried still resembles it's fresh counterpart. Basil, thyme and oregano being examples of different beasts between dried and fresh.

With snow now on the ground again, that soup looks mighty inviting. Too bad about the past dill crops. It's probably my favorite herb, and I love the clean, fresh flavor. Now that you mention it, the dill coming from the CSA last summer struck me as slightly lacking. Maybe it's a "problem herb?"

MyKitchen, pizza with leeks sounds great. Caramelized leeks are so sweet. Maybe a bit of gorgonzola on top?

Julia, I'd totally forgotten that -- it was so many years ago. We still celebrate St. David's Day with leeks and daffs.

TW, I'd love to think the fault is not mine, but my friend Jessica, who lives just a few miles from here, grows the most amazing and abundant dill. So I think my garden, or the soil, or the varieties of dill I've tried, are the issue. But I do keep trying -- because I am completely addicted to making my own dill pickles every summer.

That looks lovely. The use of leeks and dill with salmon sounds like a perfect combination!

I had never even heard about St. David's Day, but potato leek soup is so delicious. Next time I make some I'll definitely use dill! Yum!

Spending the day cleaning the garden and having this soup as my reward. Best to you, Ted and your garden too - ktc

Oh, YUM! That is my cup of soup - salmon, leeks, potatoes, and dill . Is there anything as delicious as this ? - and a lovely photo as well. I fail miserably at dill growing, but buy fat bunches and dry them in the microwave on paper towels, or minced and frozen - I use a LOT of dill.

I don't know what the heck it is with Dill I too try each and every year also and the only two times I got it to even kinda work was when I had it in the kitchen and then again when I planted fennel and really how long would that arrangement have worked. Fennel and dill are just star crossed lovers.
As it turns out I have everything with the exception of the ... dill. Thank goodness I know a store that sells it all the time and cheaply (it's a mid-eastern/Russian market)

First time I've ever heard of St. David''s day. How did I miss that all these years? I love dill, although last year was the first time I really had much luck growing it. No idea what the secret was either, or I would tell you! I think dill is pretty good about re-seeding, so maybe I'll have some this year too.

Love the look of your soup, great photo! And it sounds delicious!

Even though I sell dried dill, I prefer to buy it fresh, put the whole bunch in a plastic bag and chop off what I need, as I need it. It keeps the taste, aroma and color. (Is that really dried dill in the photo?)

This is beautiful Lydia. I would have never thought to put the salmon into the soup!

Maris, Kalyn: The first I'd heard of St. David's Day was about six weeks after I met Ted. I came home after work to find daffodils outside my apartment door. I didn't learn about the leeks until later.

Kate, I'm jealous. My garden is buried under snow....

Katrina, I've never tried to dry dill in the micro. That's a great idea, and much quicker than letting it air dry in my drying screen (or that's what I would do if I could actually grow any dill!).

Kim, glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks dill is a bit finicky to grow. As Kalyn says, it's supposed to reseed, but mine never does.

Susan, it is indeed dried dill weed.

Alisha, Noble Pig: thank you. This is really a lovely combination.

And now, I would like that fish in a soup! Makes a great meal on its own.

That looks wonderful. I love the pink of the salmon with the green. Lovely.

I think maybe you should consult a gardening blog about that pesky dill weed ;-)

This looks amazing!! I love salmon, and all the better that it's good for you. The flavor combination sounds great--refreshing and comforting / hearty all at the same time. Mmm.

Yep , I love dill specially in sabzi polo!

Tigerfish, it's a wonderful all-in-one meal!

Peabody, the pink and green combination looks lovely, but that's just a bonus -- the taste is delicious.

Carol, great idea. I am a total dill failure and need to seek professional help.

Cakespy, as a main dish, this soup is very healthy, yet very creamy.

Veron, I'm more determined than ever to grow dill this summer -- there are so many great dishes that require lots of dill.

The soup looks great, reminds me of a Russian soup I've been meaning to try. My sister-in-law grows copious quantities. Putting some chopped dill on plain boiled potatoes is one of her favourite things and using them to flavour fermented cucumbers is another, though our recent heatwave put paid to the bottling program this year.

Lovely and funny thing is that a variation of this using local products is on my to-do list. Yours looks wonderful. Served with Welsh cakes, of course!

Neil, dill is such an integral part of Russian cuisine (borscht, of course, and so many wonderful pickles), so I know that it grows in cooler climates. I live in a cooler climate, so I should be able to grow dill!

Jamie, I forgot the Welsh cakes! But we did have our leeks for St. David's Day.

That recipe looks so good :) I think it's just the thing to help me get over my fear of dill. Had it once in a recipe years ago and found it really overpowering. Time to get over that I think! :)

It could be that planting dill plants is your problem. You should plant dill by sowing seeds! It does not transplant well as started plants. Its roots are very persnickety and don't like to be moved around. Once you get some dill from seeds up and growing, let some of the dill heads go to seed. They will scatter themselves widely and you may never have to plant dill again!

TriniGourmet, I want to help you get over your fear of dill! It's such a lovely herb -- but like anything, it's best in moderate amounts in most dishes. Without it, there would be no pickles -- and that is unthinkable.

Teresa, I'm having an aha moment! Seeds, eh? I need to plant them in an area without mulch, too, if I'm to let them reseed. Oh, I'm encouraged now!

aw, thanks to the link to my (mom's) sabzi polo recipe. there's actually a variation that uses only dill, none of the other herbs, along with fava beans, that is also delicious. and for a simple dill fix, buttered toast sprinkled with dried dill is a really satisfying treat!

I'm looking forward to trying this, but as I prefer a brothy, soupy soup rather than a puree, I'm probably going to not going to completely puree the soup...maybe just about 1/3 of it. What do you think, Lydia?

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