An inexpensive French soul food with endless variations, this recipe provides a great way to learn the basic technique behind simple pureed soups. This same formula works well with a mix of vegetables. Replace half or all of the potatoes with broccoli or cauliflower or butternut squash, or try a mix of potatoes and parsnips. This recipe is easily doubled or tripled and freezes well. To make it vegetarian, omit the chicken stock. You can turn it into a vegan dish by using margarine in place of butter. If leeks aren’t available, you can use sweet onions.
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups of leeks, thinly sliced (about 3 medium leeks)
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and diced
2 quarts water, chicken or vegetable stock
Bay leaf and ½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ cup whipping cream or 2 tablespoons softened butter
Pinch of cayenne
3 tablespoons minced parsley, thyme or chives
Prepare the leeks by discarding the root and the tough green upper stalks. Chop, then rinse in water to remove any residual dirt. In a four-quart or larger saucepan, sauté the leeks butter until softened and translucent, about five minutes. Add the potatoes, bay leaf, thyme and water or stock. Simmer for about 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Remove from heat. Discard the bay leaf. Break down the vegetables with a fork or a potato masher, or puree in a blender. Return to heat. Add the whipping cream of butter. Taste. Add more salt and pepper if you think it needs it, and a bit of cayenne if desired. Garnish with chopped parsley or herbs, and add a couple cranks of black pepper.
Who wrote this recipe
This recipe first appeared in The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn. But it’s a classic French recipe that’s dates back to at least the early 1800s, according to a chef at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. This soup was made famous by Julia Child, who included it in her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In Julie & Julia, it’s the first dish that Julie Powell made from Child’s book.