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Leeks Vs. Chives- What You Should Know

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

Have you always been confused about the differences between chives vs. leeks? Well, you’re not the only one!

I was using them in my recipes without really understanding how the change in flavor could compromise my dishes. I was not even sure about the health benefits that each might have!

However, leeks vs. chives are very different greens with different flavors, benefits, and uses. There are recipes in which one should be used instead of the other one.

Ultimately, while leeks are a vegetable, chives are an herb with a similar flavor to scallion and garlic. Would you like to know more about the fantastic ways you can use these ingredients in your everyday cooking? Read on!

Chives

Chives is an edible herb deriving from the Allium schoenoprasum perennial plant. It is biologically close to garlic, scallions, and shallots. They can be found easily in grocery stores, and they have a number of uses in the kitchen.

Fresh chives can be used to season fish, potatoes, and soups if finely diced. They are characterized by long thin stems, and pastel pink edible flowers can be used in cooked recipes, while the flower’s petals can be used in salads or garnishes.

Chives are incredibly easy to grow in your garden if you supply enough water. Moreover, one of my favorite things about growing my own chives crop is that whenever I need some, I can cut a section off the stem, and the stem will keep growing!

Health Benefits

Chives can be incredibly good for your health if introduced to your diet regularly. They are incredibly nutrient-dense ingredients. They are very low in calories but high in vitamins and nutrients, as well as minerals and antioxidants.

If you are not convinced yet, keep in mind that 3 grams of chives (a tablespoon) contain only 1 calorie and 1 gram of fat, but provide 3% of our needed intake of vitamins A and C. Moreover, you can benefit from the high levels of Vitamin K, folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

Among the health benefits that this herb can bring in your life, it might also prevent prostate cancer and stomach cancer due to the high amount of antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals.

Moreover, chives promote bone health and improve your sleep and mood due to the choline nutrient, which is responsible for better memory, mood, and quality of sleep. The Vitamin K present in the plant can help you feel stronger and improve your bone health.

Recipes and Uses

Chives can be used to season a dish or increase its flavor. It is not usually the main ingredient of a recipe, but you will be able to notice the difference in taste once you have added it.

The pungent smell and flavor that characterize the family of Allium plants (garlic and scallions, for example) can bring your recipes to the next level.

Chives can be added to roasted potatoes or potato salads. It can also be a great addition to fish dishes and vegetable soups.

However, if you like to experiment in the kitchen, you can make chive butter and pesto. These are ingredients that, once made, can be kept for a longer period of time.

They can quickly be added to any of your meals to enhance their flavors. I add chives to 90% of my vegetarian meals as it does a great job of bringing out the flavor in the vegetables.

Leeks

Known as Allium porrum, this vegetable is closely related to garlic, chives, and scallions. However, the main differences between chives and leeks are in their uses and qualities.

Leeks are a perfect thing to introduce to a healthy diet for those that are trying to lose weight or gain muscle.

It can be used in many different recipes or prepared on its own with vinaigrette. Chopped leeks have been used in various cuisines such as French, Turkish, and Welsh.

After removing the tough outer leaves, you will be left with a juicy vegetable that has one of the most distinctive flavors out there.

While it is originally native from central Asia, it is used in many countries across the world today.

Health Benefits

Similarly, to garlic and onions, this vegetable is incredibly rich in essential compounds, especially Vitamin K.

It can be introduced to healthy diets or nutritional plans aimed at aiding weight loss. It is because this plant is pretty much fat-free and incredibly low in calories.

The main health benefit that you will experience by adding leeks to your diet is an improved cardiovascular system. This is because leeks are incredibly rich in the flavonoid kaempferol, which is responsible for the protection of our blood vessel linings.

By protecting them from the damage that overly reactive oxygen molecules can cause, it improves circulation and oxygen flow.

Moreover, due to the amount of Vitamin K present in this vegetable, it can help to strengthen your bones and prevent the risk of bone-related diseases such as osteoporosis.

Recipes and Uses

Leeks can be prepared in many different ways and added to stews, salads, and soups.

Among the most popular ways to make it is the iconic leek and potato soup.

To prepare it, you will need:

  • 50g butter
  • 450g potatoes peeled and cut into 1cm pieces
  • 1 small onion (pieces of the same size as the potatoes)
  • 450g white parts of leeks, sliced
  • 1 liter of vegetable stock
  • 142ml of whipping cream
  • 125ml whole-fat milk

The ingredients are relatively easy to gather, right?

The preparation of the soup is just as easy!

  • Melt the butter in a pan. When it foams, add the potatoes, onion, the white parts of leeks. Mix them until they are well coated.
  • Season well with salt and pepper and stir again. Cover the pan with a lid to keep the steam inside the pan — cook over low heat for 10 mins. The vegetables should get soft.
  • Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are cooked (~5 minutes).
  • Add the mix to a blender and create a smooth puree. Return the soup to a pan and add the milk and whipping cream.
  • Pour and serve into warmed bowls.
  • Garnish with the remaining cream and a little pile of buttered leeks. You can add black pepper before serving.

It’s by far my favorite leeks recipe and winter-warmer. It is delicious and incredibly easy to make, and if you want to use some chives, you can add it on top to increase the soup’s flavor.

While this soup is delicious, if you prefer to keep all the nutrients untouched, you should lightly sauté the sliced leeks and add it to a salad.

Substitutes and Differences

While they have a similar flavor, there are viable substitutes for both ingredients on the market.

You can easily substitute chives for scallions in your recipes if you prefer, but this substitution is best done when both ingredients are fresh.

Scallions are not suitable when dried, so if you are looking for a dry chive’s replacements, you should look into using other herbs.

Replacements for leeks are many. However, you will not be able to find the exact flavor in other vegetables. Onions and scallions have a stronger flavor. Shallots are a valid alternative, but not as good in leeks recipes.

Conclusion

While they have a similar flavor and health benefits, leeks and chives are very different ingredients.

They can be used in many different recipes, and they can bring out the flavors of the other ingredients.

Leeks vs. chives, which one do you prefer? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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