A soup so delicious it’s hard to believe how few the ingredients are and how easy the cooking procedure is. Called vichyssoise in France, story has it that it was Julia Child who brought leek and potato soup to the attention of the United States when she published a recipe in her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She called it an American invention but that’s really debatable.
Pureed leek and potato soup had been popular in France since the 19th century. It is often called “Potage à la Parmentier” after the man who popularized potatoes in French cooking. The traditional ingredients for vichyssoise are leeks, potatoes, chicken stock and cream. The difference between French vichyssoise and Julia Child’s vichyssoise is the absence of cream in the latter.
With all due respect to the French, I have to side with Julia Child with regard to the omission of cream in making leek and potato soup. I feel that cream, especially when used in copiuos amounts, drowns out the natural flavors of the leeks and potatoes.
Leek and Potato Soup
- In a thick-bottomed pan, melt the butter and add the sliced leeks.
- Cook the leeks, stirring occasionally, until very soft.
- Add the potato cubes to the leeks and stir to coat with butter.
- Pour in the broth (see notes after the recipe), bring to the boil, lower the heat and cook until the potato cubes break apart when pierced with a fork.
- Off the heat, plunge an immersion blender into the pot and process until all solids are pureed.
- If the soup is too thick at this point, put back on the stove and pour in more broth. Bring to a simmer then add more salt and pepper, as needed.
- Ladle the leek and potato soup into bowls and garnish with fried shallots and chopped parsley.