What’s Cookin’ – Julia Child’s Potage Parmentier (Leek & Potato Soup)

Julia Child was the original Food Network Star.  Back when there was no Food Network.  She was the pioneer in bringing good cooking back into the home after an era of cooking out of cans and the advent of the use of TV dinners.  She and her husband, Paul, who was her food photographer, really developed the methods of presenting the process of cooking and baking to the television medium.  And their love story is touching, too.

I lived in Boston for several years, and my oldest daughter was born there.  I remember rocking her for hours while watching Julia Child on The French Chef and Lilias Folan on Lilias, Yoga and You on WGBH, Boston’s PBS station.  There were no cable networks then – just the 3 major networks and PBS.

I can honestly say that Julia Child inspired me to cook.  But, I have never done a second of yoga in my life.

I highly recommend reading My Life in France which tells Julia Child’s story.  I read this along with the book, Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell and then saw the movie of the same name.  Julie Powell’s book chronicles her year of cooking and blogging about the 524 recipes that she prepared from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

One of the first scenes in Julie Powell’s book and the movie is about making this soup.  This is one of the easiest and tastiest soups you will ever make.

Do not be afraid that this is a Julia Child recipe.  It is really easy to make.  Do not be afraid that this recipe contains leeks.  They are good and readily available in your grocery store produce department.  If you are afraid that your family won’t eat something with leeks in it, then I recommend lying and omitting the word leeks from the name.  Trust me – they will never know the difference.

The ingredients – nothing weird or unusual (unless you think leeks are weird or unusual, which they are not).

Leeks – look like giant green onions or scallions.

Leeks are a vegetable that are part of the onion and garlic family.  The white and light green parts are edible, but the dark green leaves are pretty bitter and inedible.

Clean the leeks and then mince the white and light green parts.

The thing about leeks it that they are very dirty.  So after you lop off the tips of the root end, you need to slice them in half lengthwise and rinse them well under cold, running water.  You will be surprised how much dirt will run off.

After rinsing well, mince the white and light green parts.  Discard the dark green parts in the compost bin or garbage.  These parts are so bitter, you would not want to use them for stock.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Add the minced leeks and sauté for 5 minutes.  Do not brown.

While the leeks are sautéing, scrub, peel, and dice the potatoes.  Set aside.  You will need them in a few minutes.

After 5 minutes of sautéing, add the flour and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Do not brown.

Here are the leeks and flour sautéed together and waiting for the water.

Add one cup of hot water and stir well.

Season with the salt and pepper.  Add the rest of the hot water, the green part of the leeks, and the potatoes.  Bring to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Puree the soup base until smooth.

If you have an immersion blender, you can puree the soup right in the pot.  If not, puree in batches using a blender.  Remember that hot foods will expand so do NOT overfill your blender.

Now, at this point you can allow the soup base to cool and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  When you are ready to serve you can complete the next few steps.

Reheat the soup base if you had allowed it to cool.  Add the milk and cream.  Bring the soup up to serving temperature.  Do not allow to boil.

When heated to serving temperature, remove from heat and add the last few tablespoons of butter.  Allow to melt.

Potage Parmentier – ready to eat.  This soup is incredibly smooth and creamy.


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4 Responses to What’s Cookin’ – Julia Child’s Potage Parmentier (Leek & Potato Soup)

  1. d says:

    The clementines in the bowl on the counter add a great touch of color, too!

  2. I believe you are BADLY mistaken here. This bares no resemblance to JC’s recipe as printed. This is Julia’s:

    Preliminary Cooking
    A 3- to 4-quart saucepan or pressure cooker
    3 to 4 cups peeled potatoes sliced or diced
    3 cups thinly sliced leeks or yellow onions
    2 quarts water
    1 Tb salt

    Either simmer the vegetables, water, and salt together, partially covered, for 40 to 50 minutes until vegetables are tender; or cook under 15 pounds pressure for 5 minutes, release pressure, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes to develop the flavor.
    Mash the vegetables in the soup with a fork, or pass the soup through a food mill. Correct seasoning. Set aside uncovered until just before serving, then reheat to the simmer.

    Final Enrichment 1/3 cup heavy cream or 2 to 3 Tb softened butter 2 to 3 Tb minced parsley or chives

    NOTHING THERE about an extra 4 (!!!!!) cups of milk at the end.
    Please correct this.

    • Mama says:

      Thank you for visiting and commenting! I can tell that you are a big Julia fan as am I. I have found that there are variations in her recipes in her different cookbooks, and that is the case with this one, too. While your version sounds very delicious, the one I reference from her February 1979 edition of From Julia Child’s Kitchen is great for serving a family or larger group. In fact, the recipe states that you can use “2 quarts hot water (or 4 to 6 cups water plus milk added at end of cooking)”. I make mine with 4 cups of water and add 4 cups of whole milk at the end. So it’s 2 quarts total liquid just a mix of the two.

      Bon appétit!


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