Tuesday, January 08, 2008

One (giant) pot of soup and I'm instantly a Julia Child devotee


I don't own any of Julia Child's cookbooks. I didn't even really know much about who she was until I was introduced to her through the first food blog I ever read – the Julie/Julia Project. And even then, I was probably more captivated by Julie and her crazy resolve than by any of Julia's particular teachings. But, a couple of months ago, Laura and Michelle surprised me with a gift (don't you love surprise gifts?!) of Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen, Julie's account of the project. I enjoyed the book immensely, again for the spirit with which Julie jumps into something which feels important to her, even if it has her stalking edible prey around every corner of the city and serving her husband dinner at 11:00 every night (hmm, that's familiar). But this time I also paid a bit more attention to the food itself.

The book begins with perhaps the simplest recipe of all, and after Julie's description of how basic and essentially good it was I couldn't get it out of my head – Potage Parmentier. Potato (and Leek) Soup. The soup is just that, potatoes and leeks. Well, and butter, salt, and parsley, but those are kind of just a given right? They're not really ingredients exactly. The recipe doesn't even call for stock. Water is all you need to make the potatoes and leeks achieve absolute greatness. This soup is perfect. You have to make it. I'm going to make it again as soon as possible. I'm also on the lookout for a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I won't hestitate to buy it the next time I see one languishing in a second hand bookstore, which I hope is very soon.

Potage Parmentier
Darryl and I made this for our first ever lunch hosted by us for our two families, just after Christmas. We tripled it, and even though everyone from niece to grandmother loved it, we didn't come nearly close to finishing it all. The following is a more reasonable quantity. Mmmmm, get ready for heavenly, buttery deliciousness.

1 pound of potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups leeks, thinly sliced
2 quarts water
1 tbsp salt

Combine these four ingredients in a large pot and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Using a fork or potato masher, mash the veggies against the side/bottom of the pot. The texture you're going for isn't uniform, but more like soft with delicious flecks of potato and leek (don't whip out the food processor or hand blender – according to Julia, via Julie, this would be horribly "un-French").

Remove from heat and stir in:
2–3 tbsp butter
some chopped parsely if you like

1 comment:

Laura said...

Marvellous post, Meg. Great writing style, great little illustration, like the exhortation to try the soup, very evocative. That pot of soup sounds enormous! I can only imagine the size of the pot needed. What a concoction! Where does 'Parmentier' come from, by the way?