Monday, January 25, 2010

Potage parmentier...

...or potato and leek soup, was the first "from scratch" soup I ever made. It was also when I fell in love with cooking. I was about twelve years old. I found the recipe in The Bulletin, a now defunct Philadelphia city newspaper. The soup seemed so fancy, yet easy to make, and I couldn't wait to try it. On my first attempt it came out beautifully--very encouraging to a novice cook--and I've been making it ever since. It's very versatile. I remember that the recipe said you can serve it cold and call it Vicyssoise (ooh la la). I've also used it as a base for New England clam chowder.

To make it you'll need:

2 leeks
6 small or 4 large potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
8 cups water
1/2 pint half and half or light cream
salt and pepper

Anyone who has used leeks knows that they hold a lot of grit and sand. I slit them with a knife lengthwise and rinse them in a bowl of cold water.

When they are clean, slice them up like this. Sautee them in a 5 quart pot with butter until soft, but don't let them brown. Add your peeled and sliced potatoes (sorry, no picture - you know what a sliced and peeled potato looks like, right?). Salt and pepper to taste, and add just enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low until the potatoes are fork tender.

At this point you need to puree the contents of the pot. I used to pour it all into a blender, then back into the pot--until my thoughtful son Alex, who's an awesome cook, gifted me with this handheld mixer. When it's completely pureed, add your half pint of cream. Done.

I like to serve it with cornbread. Any recipe will do - even a mix. But here's the key to delicious corn bread: bake it in a cast iron skillet. Most recipes call for a 400 degree oven. Add at least two tablespoons of vegetable oil to the skillet. Pop the skillet in while the oven is preheating. When the oven is fully preheated, open it and pour your batter into the skillet without removing it. The hot skillet causes the cornbread to be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, and out of this world delicious.

The photo is not very good, but trust me, the soup is.

Taking a stab at making preserved lemons. The how-to came from Quotidian Life, a most interesting blog. Thank you, Melissa.


monix said...

This is one of my favourite soups, although I only add cream on special occasions. My mother taught me to get the sand and grit out by slitting the leeks lengthwise with the root still on, then holding the leek open, upside down, under a running tap. I imagine we all do what we saw our mothers do!

Jodi said...

Hi monix,

I usually substitute canned milk for the cream. I find I have to add something because the leeks tend to give the soup a slight greenish tinge that I don't find appetizing, but that's just me. I'm funny about color. :)

Stephanie Ann said...

This looks really really good! (Everything you cook is really good.) I know you grow kale, do you grow leeks too?

Jodi said...

Hi Stephanie,

I would grow leeks if I could, but I never seem to have any luck with onions, leeks, garlic, or any root veggies for that matter. I think it has to do with the heavy clay soil we have, even though we compost a lot.

Joan said...

Thanks for making the recipe so simple; none of the complicated nonsense. I'm looking forward to trying your version of the potato leek soup and will definitely try the crispy corn bread tip. I agree with Stephanie!

Quotidian Life said...

I've recently discovered leeks (they weren't available here in Jordan until recently) so I'm going to try this recipe. My kids love potato soup. Thanks!

Jodi said...

Thank you Joan and Melissa. A kind word is always welcome.


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