Francophile alert: if Julia Child, the grand dame of French cookery, were still alive, then she would be celebrating her centennial birthday in just one short week (on Aug. 15). Naturally, it only seems fitting to crack the spine on her seminal masterpiece, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and get cooking, in honor of the auspicious date.
Not too surprisingly, flipping through the pages of pithy prose and detailed instructions provided ample inspiration — one could easily spend a year devoted to cooking from the hefty tome — but my penchant for anything and everything soup eventually led me to settle on her classic recipe for potage parmentier (otherwise known as potato leek soup).
Keep reading for the classic recipe.
This may sound blasphemous, but we felt the original recipe was missing a certain spark. A few modern upgrades (amended in the following recipe) were just the trick. The resulting soup is velvety and immensely soothing, and would make for an excellent first course for a Julia-themed dinner, or any French meal, for that matter. I'll be serving mine up with a hefty serving of another Julia favorite: moules à la marinière.
What's your favorite Julia Child recipe?
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Potage Parmentier (Potato Leek Soup)
2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed oil
4-5 medium russet potatoes (1 pound), peeled and roughly chopped
3 large leeks (1 pound), cleaned, and thinly sliced
6 cups vegetable stock (or light chicken stock)
Kosher salt, to taste
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup crème fraiche
1/3 cup minced parsley or chives
- Heat the oil in a large (6+ quart) stockpot or dutch oven, over medium heat. Add the leek and potato. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have begun to soften and brown slightly, about 8-12 minutes (this time will vary greatly depending on the surface area of the bottom of your pot).
- Add the vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
- Blend until smooth either using an immersion blender, or by carefully transferring to a blender in batches.
- Add the cream, and season to taste with salt (I start with 1 teaspoon and go from there, tasting frequently) and lemon juice.
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of crème fraiche, and a healthy sprinkling of minced parsley.
- For a more delicately flavored soup, sub in water for the vegetable stock.