Potage Parmentier (Potato & Leek Soup)

potage parmentierIt was cold and rainy in New York last night. And though the sun popped back out this morning, it's pretty clear that the scant spoonful of summer we were served this year has already been washed and dried and placed back in the drawer with the rest of the silver. Despite this, I hope you won't mind if I confess my excitement?

Because I AM excited. It's a vestigial rush of emotion leftover from my Catholic school years, when Fall meant new books and skirts and rekindled crushes. If I think about it long enough, I can even feel the smoothness of that first page in a fresh five-subject notebook. There's just something lovely about blank ruled pages, isn't there?

Fall also means a return the cool-weather cooking that we've avoided these past few months. Words like simmer and stir and (oh yes!) bake sound so good on chilly mornings. Honestly, on days like this, few things can pull me out of bed like the promise and comfort of a warm kitchen.

This simmered soup is lovely on a rainy afternoon. I make it the "lazy" way by not peeling my potatoes, which makes it even speedier. And though the original didn't call for bacon, I've added it because...well, I dont' think I need to justify that. If you are vegetarian, just skip the bacon and start the soup off with a bit of olive oil. It's a fairly quick recipe, so if your day was spent in an office or running errands, it won't be long before it's just you, a book, and a bowl of potage parmentier.

potato leek soup
And about that name...

Since the recent Gourmet shuttering, there has been a lot of discussion about "elitism" in food. In comment after comment on sites like the New York Times or Slate or even Twitter, I've read that people seem to think it came to this because the recipes in the magazine were too complicated and out of reach for the average home cook.

I admit that I had a little trouble understanding this because I never really found the recipes in Gourmet to be all that exotic. I write this not as a professionally trained cook, but as a girl who has been reading that magazine for ages. I never had any trouble finding things that were inspiring or easy to recreate at home or (for a few years) my college dorm.

So I wonder if perhaps it was all just in the name? Are there people who read the word "Gourmet" and instantly assumed it was something too difficult or out of reach for them?

Perhaps, and so just in case, let me assure you that Potage Parmentier is really just Potato & Leek soup. And there isn't anything scary about that...

Potage Parmentier with Bacon
Adapted from a recipe by Julia Child

2 strips bacon, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
3 cups leeks thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb potatoes, washed and roughly chopped but not peeled
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (low sodium)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt (plus more to taste)
3 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons minced parsley (optional)

To make:

In a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, saute the bacon pieces until crisp. Remove the bacon and reserve, leaving the fat in the pot.

Add the leeks to the bacon fat and saute for about 5 minutes until they are soft. Add the garlic and potato cubes and continue to saute in the pan for another 10 minutes, keeping an eye to make sure the leeks or garlic don't burn.

Pour in the broth and salt, then raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, partially covered, for 5 minutes. Lower the heat and let simmer for another 30 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by a 1/3 and the potatoes are fork tender.

Using an immersion blender or by processing in batches in a stand-up blender, process the soup until smooth (if you like it a little chunky, only process 2/3 of the soup and then leave the other half as is).

Adjust the seasoning as desired. Just before serving, stir in the cream and butter. Serve in individual soup bowls garnished with the reserved crisped bacon and minced parsley (if desired).


  1. "it's pretty clear that the scant spoonful of summer we were served this year has already been washed and dried and placed back in the drawer with the rest of the silver." I just love your writing style! I could even picture myself running my fingers over the smooth, new page of a 5-subject notebook.

    This soup looks so comforting and perfect for a wet, chilly fall day like the one we're having here in the midwest. Best of all, I have all of the ingredients (well, onions for leeks) and no plans for dinner. It's on!

  2. That DOES look awfully good right now. At this point, I'm glad that merely lighting a burner on my Rocket Powered Stove makes things a little warmer in here ;)

  3. I haven't made this Julia child recipe yet, which is weird considering leek and potato soup is my favorite!
    Looks great! :)

  4. that soup looks wonderful! I wish we would get some cool weather down here in the deep south- we had a few days in the low 80s but now we are back to summer weather- aghhh. I love cooking and baking when it isn't sweltering and humid outside too!

  5. This was the first Julia recipe I ever made, and it remains my favorite. Just seeing it here makes me want it again!

  6. I could really go for a bowl of this right about now! And as a vegetarian, I'd substitute some Fakin' Bacon, a tempeh product, to retain the depth and smokiness that bacon would add to the soup.

  7. I'm a sucker for a good fall soup, so I'll have to try this one soon...

  8. This looks delish! And EVERYTHING is better with bacon!

  9. Another fab soup! I read your interview over at the Times only last week and was fascinat actually fascinated by the fact that you'd eat bread last! My new housemate and I tried your soup---I will never look at the green apples the same way! Thanks a ton for sharing!

  10. Looks super delish and easy to make! Will have to give it a try. :)

  11. Looks so thick and creamy! Nicely done!

  12. Mmmm. The soup looks so warm and inviting. I just made a sweet potato and leek soup, and it was perfect for the rainy day we had.


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