Friday, October 28, 2016

Potage Parmentier - Potato Leek Soup



Just take a moment to appreciate Julia Child in all her glory as she introduces "The Chicken Sisters": Ms. Fryer, Ms. Broiler, Ms. Roaster, Ms. Caponette, Ms. Stewer and old Madam Hen.

She'll forever be a culinary icon through her captivating TV presence on The French Chef and brilliant cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But I have a confession...

I had never even heard of Julia Child while growing up. It's embarrassing, but unfortunately not my worst offense linked to a sheltered upbringing. I began noticing these lapses in my awareness of pop culture while an undergrad at Hopkins trying to relate to my peers. Yes it was painful at times, but I didn't let my crippling phobia of pop culture get me down...


I simply avoided "trivia nights" and perfected the art of strategic nodding and calculated laughter to hide these deficits.

Fortunately, I learn quickly. I discovered the world of Julia Child and was lovestruck by her quirky charisma and talent. I'm paying homage to the beloved French Chef with my take on her classic recipe, Potage Parmentier, aka potato and leek soup.

You may remember that my last blog post shared some strong opinions about homemade chicken stock. It's an essential part of making a great soup. I stand by that. We must demand the best ingredients for our soup recipes. Store bought stock is not the best. Believe me.


WRONG
I Never Said That






On the contrary, certain soups taste better using just plain water. Like many of Julia's recipes, she transforms very simple ingredients, leeks and potatoes in this case, into elegant French cuisine. Using chicken stock or other pungent ingredients can easily overpower the delicate flavors of the vegetables, which is why I sometimes prefer water.  Of course, Julia said it best..."The beauty of French soups, and I think a lot of people misunderstand them, is that when you use fresh ingredients, you don't want to disguise their taste."

With that being said, no consensus was reached in a side by side comparison. I found this to be largely personal preference. Regardless of which you prefer, both variations are flavorful and develop into a thick, creamy soup due to the starchiness of the potatoes. No dairy or added fats required! This plant based soup is a great addition to a Mediterranean style diet, helping to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes. BONUS - add a dollop of Greek yogurt for protein, extra creaminess and a nice tang.

How to Prepare Leeks:
Leeks require thorough cleaning as dirt tends to get trapped within the layers.
Below is a step by step guide for slicing and washing leeks.

Step 1: Remove dark green tops and hairy, tough bottoms. (May save these for future stocks)

Step 2 Cut each leek in half, lengthwise.


Step 3: Cut each leek-half into thirds lengthwise, keeping the very end intact

Step 4: Thinly slice each leek-half, crosswise

Step 5: Submerge in cold water and wash thoroughly. Repeat as needed. Set aside.


Potage Parmentier - Potato Leek Soup
Tips/Tricks to Make Perfect Potato Leek Soup:
  • Get creative. I chose this recipe because it's the base of several other classic French soups and would be a great foundation for your own creations.
    • Try adding in other vegetables: Carrots, broccoli, etc
    • I made a version with 3 cups of blanched arugula that I added to the potato and leeks just before pureeing. 
  • If you're pregnant, have the man flu, don't need no man, or just weak souled and crave a little bit more fat, just go for it.
    • Remember, moderation is part of a healthy lifestyle. Aim to make smart choices most the time
    • Take the soup off the heat (to prevent curdling) and add a few tablespoons of milk, butter or cream just prior to serving.
  • Experiment with different textures
    • Use a food processor for a homogenous, finely pureed soup
    • Try a food mill (my preference) which also creates a homogenous soup, with slightly more texture. Plus, it's fun to operate. 
    • For a chunky soup, just mash the potatoes a bit with a fork

Potato and Leek Soup Ingredients:
  • 4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (about 2 large or 4 regular sized leeks)
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and roughly diced (abut 4-5 cups)
  • 7 cups water (or chicken stock)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Greek yogurt (optional for serving)
  • Chives or Parsley, chopped (optional for garnish)


Potato and Leek Soup Recipe:
Heat olive oil in medium dutch oven or pot. Sauté the leeks over medium heat for 6-8 minutes till soft, but not browned. Mix in the potatoes and water or chicken stock.


Bring to a boil. Simmer partially uncovered for 40-50 minutes, till the vegetables are soft. In batches, run soup through a food mill or food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with fresh herbs and yogurt, if desired. Enjoy

1 comment:

  1. This just brought water in my mouth, I hope it is really that tasty as it actually looks. A very informative blog regarding this type of food to eat.

    ReplyDelete