Potato Leek Soup
It rained, sleeted and snowed all day last Saturday, and I loved it every minute of it. The kids stayed in their pajamas and watched movies all day, my husband made a roaring fire (and filled our house with smoke, but that’s another story) and I made a big pot of Potato Leek Soup. What better way to spend a blustery October day?
Potato Leek Soup, or Potage Parmentier, is a French classic. It’s one of the first dishes I learned to make in culinary school, right after a proper omelet, because it’s an essential base soup in French cuisine. Add watercress for Watercress Soup, serve it chilled for Vichyssoise, or top it with bacon, fried leeks, fresh herbs or diced vegetables. There are endless variations — just use your imagination to make it your own.
It’s simple to make, but first you have to deal with the leeks. They’re notoriously sandy and dirty, and very good at hiding it, so be sure to wash them well. Start by cutting off and discarding the root ends and thick dark green parts.
Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and rinse each half under cold water, pulling apart the layers to remove any grit that’s tucked inside.
To make the soup, melt the butter in a large soup pot, then add the chopped leeks and garlic and cook until soft and wilted. They’ll start off looking like this.
And end up looking like this.
Next, add the potatoes, stock, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
Purée the soup with a hand-held immersion blender (or in a regular blender) until smooth.
Finally, add the heavy cream. You can reduce the amount if you’d like but I wouldn’t leave it out completely. Cream makes the soup wonderfully silky, rich and smooth. Just add it little by little until the soup tastes good to you.
Bring to a simmer, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve hot, garnished with fresh thyme, chives or anything you like.
Potato Leek Soup
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 leeks, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 7 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth (best quality such as Swanson)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig fresh thyme, plus more for garnish if desired
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Chives, finely chopped (optional)
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until soft and wilted, about 10 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary so as not to brown.
- Add the potatoes, stock, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper to pot and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft.
- Fish out the thyme sprig and bay leaves, then purée the soup with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth. (Alternatively, use a standard blender to purée the soup in batches; see note.) Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If soup is too thin, simmer until thickened. If it's too thick, add water or stock to thin it out. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired.
- Note: If using a standard blender to purée the soup: be sure not to fill the jar more than halfway; leave the hole in the lid open and cover loosely with a dishtowel to allow the heat to escape; and pour blended soup into a clean pot.
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