I love leeks. I love everyone in the onion family, but I have a special affection for leeks. I tried to describe why, but it sounded like really bad middle school creative writing, so I deleted it. So we’ll just skip that and move on to the cooking part.
I bought a couple bunches of leeks at the store earlier in the week, and potatoes, so that at some point this week I could throw together the soup. It’s one of the simplest things to make, and it’s warm and comforting on a cold wintery evening.
The recipe I followed is from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I., by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck. It’s the first entry in Chapter One – Soup.
Potage Parmentier (Leek or Onion and Potato Soup)
"Leek and potato soup smells good, tastes good, and is simplicity itself to make. It is also versatile as a soup base; add water cress and you have a water-cress souop, or stir in cream and chill it for a vichyssoise. To change the formula a bit, add carrots, string beans, cauliflower, broccoli, or anything else you think would go with it, and vary the proportions as you wish."
Here’s what you need:
3 cups or 1 lb leeks,
thinly sliced, including the tender green
* A few things to keep in mind about leeks – first of all, you want to trim the darkest green parts away – easiest way is to cut them on an angle while you rotate the leek on your cutting board. You can see that inside the darker parts the green is lighter and kind of yellowish – this part is okay to use. The darkest part tends to be drier, kind of like the skin you peel off of an onion, only not AS dry.
Also, leeks tend to have dirt or sand in between their layers, and the best way to get rid of that is to slice the leek cross-wise
and soak it all in a deep bowl of cold water.
Swish the leeks around in the water to help loosen the dirt. The leek will float, and the dirt and sand will sink to the bottom.
And you’ll also need
2 quarts of water
1 T salt
And that’s IT. How simple can you get?
Place everything in a 3-4 quart sauce pot
and bring to a boil.
Drop the heat down, partially cover the pot and simmer for 40-50 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Mash the vegetables with a fork or run them through a food mill – or use a food processor an immersion blender to puree everything.
Taste it, and add more salt if you think it needs it, and add pepper to taste. Ta da! You’re done!
Now, if I had thought ahead, I would have picked up a baguette to serve with the soup. But I didn’t think that far ahead, and I didn’t have time to make bread, so I found a recipe for a Quick Onion Flat Bread in a little cookbook called "Fast Breads!" by Howard Early and Glenda Morris. It was published in 1986 and I think it’s now out of print. I’ve posted that recipe after this one, in case you don’t remember to get a baguette while you’re buying the leeks.
Oh – and below – I swirled in some half & half to make it look pretty. The book calls for whipping cream or sweet butter stirred in before serving, and a sprinkling of parsley on top, but I didn’t sprinkle parsley. Sorry.