The allium family (including garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, and chives) is well known to even the most basic chef. After all, what pantry is complete without onions and garlic? But these tasty plants are also nutrition powerhouses, packed with antioxidants that have shown potential in the fight against cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
This weeks recipe uses leeks in a potage, or soup, and was sent to CCSA as part of a series of emails from our resident chef, Dr. Linda Doody. She has been sharing her extensive collection of favorite recipes with friends, family, and the CCSA team as a means of maintaining connections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Eat leeks in March, garlic in May, all the rest of the year the doctors may play.”
Old English Proverb
Potage Parmentier (and Variations)
From Julia Child’s Kitchen, Julia Child (1975)
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 3 cups sliced or minced leeks, white part only, or onions, or a combination of both (cut each leek in half the long way and rinse well between concentric layers to remove dirt and sand)
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 2 quarts hot water (or 4 to 6 cups water plus milk added at the end of cooking)
- 1 Tbsp salt (start out with half the salt here, then season to taste before serving)
- Pepper to taste
- ~1 cup tender green part of leeks, sliced or minced
- 4 cups (~1½ pounds) potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped or neatly diced (if neatly diced, use boiling potatoes that keep their shape [e.g., Yukon gold, round red, fingerling])
- ⅓ to ½ cup heavy or sour cream and/or 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 to 3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley and/or chives
- Potage Parmentier (Leek and Potato Soup)
- In a 3- to 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, stir in the leeks (reserve the green parts) and/or onions, cover pan, and cook slowly for 5 minutes without browning. Then blend in the flour and stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes to cook the flour without browning it either. Remove from heat, let cool a moment, and gradually beat in a cup or so of hot water. Blend thoroughly with flour and vegetables, then stir in the rest of the water. (If you want to use milk, add at the end of cooking; it will curdle if you add it now.) Stir in the salt and pepper, green part of leeks, and the potatoes. Bring to a boil, and simmer partially covered for about 40 minutes, until vegetables are thoroughly tender. For a peasant-style soup, mash the vegetables in the pan with a mixing fork or potato masher. For a smoother texture, put through the medium blade of a food mill, or you can use an immersion blender to purée half of the soup, leaving the rest chunky. Serve topped with a dollop of cream or a piece of melting butter and parsley and/or chives.
- Vichyssoise (Cold Cream of Leek and Potato Soup)
- Simmer the potatoes and leeks/onions (omitting the green parts) in 6 cups of water as above until vegetables are tender. Purée vegetables through the fine blade of a food mill (or use an immersion blender). Stir in milk and cream until desired consistency, and season carefully with white pepper and salt; over-salt slightly because a chilled soup loses savor. Cover and chill. Taste again for seasoning just before serving; sprinkle each portion with minced fresh chives or parsley.
- Soupe du Jour (Leek and Potato Soup with Leftover Vegetables)
- Prepare potage parmentier until the potatoes and leeks/onions are tender, then add cooked vegetables such as a cup of squash, a handful of Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, or beans, mashed green peas, or lettuce leaves from last night’s salad, washed and shredded. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes to warm through. Complete the soup as above, mashing the vegetables or puréeing through a food mill (or use an immersion blender), and enriching with milk, cream and/or butter.
- Soupe au Cresson (Watercress Soup)
- Wash a bunch of watercress 2 to 2⅓ inches in diameter; pull off most of the leaves and reserve them. Chop the rest roughly, including stems; stir into potage parmentier after it has simmered about 30 minutes, until vegetables are almost tender. Simmer 5 minutes, then purée through a food mill (or use an immersion blender). Stir in the reserved watercress leaves when reheating the soup just before serving, and enrich with milk, cream and/or butter. This soup can also be served cold.
Note: Potage parmentier was one of Julia Child’s favorite soups. It does work really well as a base for soupe du jour, especially with cooked broccoli.