It’s the dead of winter and there’s not much growing which is tough since my blog centers around my little kitchen garden. I recently joined a photography challenge to try and get my creative juices flowing and for our first challenge we were given onions and leeks. Right away I got kind of excited, I love being given an ingredient to focus on and leeks and onions are the perfect winter vegetable though they need their start in spring or summer.
Since this was a photography challenge and not a recipe challenge I thought I’d go super simple and do a classic, French recipe-potato leek soup. I dug out one of my Julia Child cookbooks and got to work.
Almost immediately my mouth started watering as I sauteed the leeks in a little butter. Then I added the potatoes, water (yep, water not stock!) salt and pepper. That was it and yet as the vegetables softened and melted together it turned into so much more than the sum of it’s parts-creamy, savoury, luxurious, comforting and something I would be proud to serve at any dinner party.
I didn’t set out to blog this recipe but once I was done, I felt I had to. This soup felt like the perfect reminder to keep life simple, to use what we have in season and savour the ingredients. In the words of Julia,
“An excellent lunch or light supper need be no more that a good soup, a salad, cheese and fruit. “
Try this soup as is and have fun making it again and using it as a jumping off point for your creativity. A little bacon or ham, some watercress, carrot, turnip or whatever else you can dream up. I garnished mine with various herbs, greens and some rosemary flowers found in my garden for some texture variation. Serve this cold with the addition of cream and you have a traditional vichyssoise, perfect in the summer. Versatile recipe, right?!
The original recipe is simply equal parts leeks and potatoes, water and salt and simmered so feel free to be completely hands off if you wish. I enjoy the process of cooking and the fun of building flavours so I sauteed my leeks gently in a small bit of butter first and used a bay leaf from my garden. Many people choose to use stock, garlic, other herbs etc but I purposely chose to keep this simple in the spirit of Julia Child’s recipe to enjoy the beauty, simplicity and pure flavour of the leeks. I urge you to try this as is to see how amazing a few simple ingredients really can be.
The first batch I used my hand blender but realized Julia was right (duh, the potatoes will get gluey if blended) so use either a potato masher or a ricer if you have one or simply simmer until it becomes creamy from stirring at the end which is what I did the second time round.
I hope you find this soup a comforting reminder that sometimes all we need are the most basic of ingredients and a moment of peace in front of a warm stove.
Bon appetit my friends!
PS. Anyone else love Julia??? So inspiring and I love her sense of humor. Comment below if you have a favourite recipe or TV episode!
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Potato Leek Soup-Potage Parmentier
- 3 Large Leeks, Cleaned And Sliced Thinly
- 3 Russet Potatoes, Peeled And Diced 1/2″
- 4 c Water
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 tbsp Butter Or olive oil to keep it vegan
- Salt And Pepper To Taste
- In a medium heavy bottomed pot, heat butter or olive oil on medium-low until melted and then add leeks. Saute gently until translucent but not browned.
- Add potatoes, water and bay leaf and simmer, stirring occasionally, approximately 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are soft enough to mash easily. *If you choose to simmer this longer, you may need to add a bit of water to desired consistency.*Do not mash potatoes until they are all cooked as the soup will burn easily once it is creamy.
- With potato masher, ricer or the back of your large spoon, mash the soup until it is creamy and fairly smooth. This should be fast and easy once the potatoes are cooked properly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. ( I used 2 tsp salt) Serve in bowls and garnish as desired with chopped chives, parsley or other fine herbs from the garden or a swirl of cream.