Classic Leek and Potato Soup (that isn’t laden with cream)

Clearly, I’m moving into my “soup” period as winter yawns before us.  Yesterday, my family tried my “lightened” Italian wedding soup; with chunks of good baguette, this was a filling lunch.  Today, I’m going to use the leeks that have been sitting in my fridge since Christmas and a few potatoes, which I always have on hand (and usually roast in duck fat).  A classic French leek and potato soup for lunch!

Leeks must be cleaned thoroughly by slicing up to the root and running under cold water.

Leeks must be cleaned thoroughly by slicing up to the root and running under cold water.

For as long as I have made this soup, I have used exclusively, the recipe from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle (no one ever seems to remember the FRENCH ladies who co-wrote this book).  The French name for this soup is potage parmentier.  The recipe is easy to remember– potatoes, leeks, water, salt and a little cream or butter at the end.  Yes, I wrote A LITTLE.  It’s not a heavy soup.  What I love about this soup is that you can make other soups from this base recipe– chill it for vichyssoise, or add a handful of watercress for watercress soup.

Although it takes a while– almost an hour– for the potatoes and leeks to break down, you can just set the timer and walk away; no babysitting needed.  Once the vegetables are ready, I recommend using a food mill to puree the potatoes and leeks.  You can use a potato masher, but the texture will not be as smooth.  Whatever you do, do NOT use an immersion blender; the blades will cut the potato cell walls too much and you’ll end up with a gluey mess (trust me, I’ve done this on a larger scale with potatoes in a Cuisinart– total YUCK).

Lastly, you can make this soup ahead of time, up to the point of adding the cream.  When you’re ready to use it, reheat the soup to simmer, then continue with the remaining steps.

When it’s cold and windy, this is a heart-and-body warming soup!

Potage Parmentier by Julia, Simone and Louisette

  • 1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 lb sliced leeks (white and light green parts only) or yellow onions
  • 2 qts water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4-6 TB heavy whipping cream or 2-3 TB softened butter (I have never made it with butter)
  • ground white pepper and additional salt to taste
  • 2-3 TB minced parsley or chives for garnish

I didn’t have a pound of leeks, so I made up the difference with yellow onion.

One pound of each, chopped small

One pound of each, chopped small

Place the chopped potatoes, leeks/onions and salt in a large pot and cover with the water.  Simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are fork-tender, about 40 minutes.

Simmer partially covered

Simmer partially covered

I use a food mill with the smallest blade.

There are three pieces to a food mill- the crank, the bowl and the blade.

There are three pieces to a food mill- the crank, the bowl and the blade.

Pour the soup through a food mill (fine blade) or mash with a potato masher.

Reverse the direction of the crank every now and then to "clean" the blade.

Reverse the direction of the crank every now and then to “clean” the blade.

I pour the soup back into the pot, then correct seasoning.

Soup should be very smooth.

Soup should be very smooth.

Stir in the cream a little at a time.

Stir in cream just before serving

Stir in cream just before serving

Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with the chopped parsley/chives.  Enjoy!

From simple ingredients to savory soup!

From simple ingredients to savory soup!

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