Potato and Leek Soup

The French call it Potage Parmentier, named after Antoine-Auguste Parmentier, the tireless promoter of the potato in eighteenth-century France. We made this with the gorgeous blue potatoes from the farm, but it may be made with any color potato you have; red, white, or blue! The classic version of this soup calls for the potatoes and leeks to be simmered in broth or water. We decided to saute the leeks in butter first to add more flavor and richness. We have also made the soup with a combination of chicken and beef broth. Feel free to change it up and use all chicken or all vegetable broth for a vegetarian version.

We like this soup semi-pureed so there is some texture. If you have an immersion blender, that works the best.

Top with some crumbled bacon if you like or some shredded broccoli or radishes for crunch.

8 leeks, white and a couple of inches of light green, rinsed, roots trimmed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chicken stock/broth
2 cups beef stock/broth
1 cup half and half
3 potatoes, about 1 to 1 1/4 pounds, peeled and cut in chunks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or 2 teaspoons dried
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
Freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large bowl with cold water. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise then cut them crosswise into 1/4" - 1/2" slices. Place the slices in the bowl and swirl around to separate the slices and dislodge all the grit. Let the leeks sit in the bowl for a minute to allow the grit to settle on the bottom of the bowl.

Melt butter in a saucepan or enameled cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Carefully remove the leeks from the bowl of water with a slotted spoon or a skimmer and add to the saucepan. Try not to disturb the water too much. The grit will remain on the bottom of the bowl.

Season the leeks with some sea salt and saute, stirring often, about 10 to 15 minutes until they are soft and starting to brown. Lower the heat to medium as they dry out and start to color. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. 

Remove pan from the heat and carefully puree using an immersion blender. Leave some chunks in the soup for texture. If you want it totally smooth, continue to puree. If you do not have an immersion blender, let soup cool a bit and very carefully transfer to a blender or food processor and puree in batches. 

Taste the soup for seasoning and add more sea salt and pepper if you like. Serve with crouton, toast, garlic bread, or unseasoned bread. 

Recipe and Photograph Copyright Deirdre Davis 2016
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