Potage Parmentier

Creamy leek and potato soup

This classic French soup can be prepared in half an hour. All you need is a couple of potatoes and one or two sturdy leeks — or a leek and an onion. The veggies are simmered to tenderness and then puréed, with cream swirled in at the end.

Unlike vichyssoise, which is served cold, potage Parmentier is served hot. It’s a satisfying soup that makes a fine cold-weather lunch dish. Serve it accompanied by toast, with perhaps a salad and/or some cheese, ham or smoked salmon alongside. This soup also makes a simple but elegant starter for a more elaborate meal.

For best results, choose potatoes that soften when boiled. And use only the white part of the leeks, with perhaps a little of the light green leaves, to ensure that you obtain a pale-colored soup. I like combining leek and onion, which I find produces a more complex flavor. But traditionalists would use leeks only.

The quantities below will serve 3-4 people.

3/4 lb. potatoes (350 g, 12 ounces)
3/4 lb. leeks (or a combination of leeks and onions)
1 quart water (1 liter, 4 cups)
1-1/2 tsp. sea salt or table salt
4 tbsp. crème fraîche, sour cream or heavy cream
fresh herbs for garnish: chives, dill, cilantro, chervil

Peel and dice the potatoes. Transfer to a soup pot.

Trim off the bottom of the leeks, cut in half lengthwise and rinse well to remove any grit. Discard the dark green tops of the leaves. Chop the white part of the leek and add to the pot. If using an onion as well, peel, dice and add to the pot.

Cover the veggies with the water. Add the salt. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Purée the soup in a blender. Transfer to a clean pot.

If the soup is too thin for your taste, simmer for a few minutes to thicken. If it’s too thick for your taste, add a little more water.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently. Add the cream, stirring or whisking to blend.

Serve garnished with fresh herbs and a swirl of extra cream. Serves 3-4.

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