A few potato dishes in France are named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier (1737 – 1813) who is known as the promoter of using potatoes for something more than feeding the barnyard animals. Parmentier was a prisoner in Prussia during the Seven Years War and upon his return home to France in 1763 he could see that the French people were starving. In the 16th century it was a law in France that potatoes would not be used for human consumption as it was believed, mistakenly, that they caused leprosy and other diseases. But in the Prussian prison where Parmentier lived, they survived on potatoes, so on his return he set out to change the mindset, and the law, of the French people into accepting this tuber as the survival food that it is.
Potato and Leek Soup is a French staple and forms the base for a number of other recipes. It can be made hearty and thick, or thinned with cream or chicken stock. Serve it up with a warm crusty baguette smeared with butter for a filling meal in and of itself.
4-5 medium sized Russet Potatoes
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Salt to taste
1 Bay Leaf
1 Clove Garlic
Butter, or, Butter and Olive Oil
Milk – The kind of milk is up to you.
Chopped fresh Chives
Peel and cut the potatoes into small cubes.
Chop the clove of garlic.
Get out your soup pot. A 3-quart pot would be big enough for this recipe.
Set the fire to low.
Add the butter.
As the butter melts, add the salt, black pepper, basil, and dried thyme.
Once the butter is melted, add the chopped potatoes.
Stir to cover the potatoes with the melted butter and herbs.
Saute for a few minutes.
Add the chopped garlic.
Add the bay leaf.
If the potatoes start to stick to the pan, add a little water and stir.
Then cover the potatoes with filtered water and simmer.
Simmer the potatoes for about 45 minutes.
Take the leek and slice down the middle, then turn it halfway and slice it down the middle again. Then slice the leek into thin slices.
Put it in a colander or a strainer and rinse well to get out the dirt.
Get out a saucepan.
Set another fire on the stove to low.
Add some butter.
Saute the leeks until they are tender.
Add spoonfuls of broth from the soup when needed to keep the leeks from burning.
When the leeks are limp, add them to the potatoes.
Simmer for another 5 – 10 minutes.
Add some milk/cream.
If you have an immersion blender, use it to puree half the soup.
Ladle this hearty and thick soup up into bowls, sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese and some chopped chives.
Note About Potatoes:
There is a reason why a soup would call for a Russet potato rather than just any potato. Russets are starchy and will fall apart when they are cooked – especially when they are over cooked in a soup. This does two things – it spreads the potato flavor through out the soup, and it also serves as a natural thickener. By using Russet potato and cream in this soup, you can bypass making a roux.
Find more information on Antoine-Augustin Parmentier on Wikipedia.