I am going to admit something perhaps a bit embarrassing here. This is the first Julia Child recipe I have made. At least directly from her cookbook. I have an excuse because I didn’t actually own her cookbook until a couple of months ago. But even those several months seem like a long time where we’re talking about having Mastering the Art of French Cooking in your hands.
The problem is, though, that I have this weird kind of OCD thing about going in order. I don’t like to do things out of order. It always stressed me in school when we skipped chapters in our textbooks. And when my piano or flute teachers gave me a new music book and didn’t assign the first song for practice followed by the second song, well, it took me awhile to get used to.
And so, with Julia Child, that brings us to now, and the first chapter on soups, which I have recently read through, marking the recipes I eventually want to try. I like to be organized and purposeful in how I move through cookbooks, meaning lists and recipe spreadsheets and all of that. Let me just tell you that sometimes it’s probably a wonder I am functioning adult with how many lists and calendars and schedules I used to make as a child. It might have scared my parents a little.
So here we are at this soup, which is the very first recipe in the book (not that I’m going to cook from this book in order or anything, just that I wanted to make something a la Julia Child and this is about as far as I have gotten reading-wise). And you know, I’m normally not really a big soup person. And even with this soup, I couldn’t make a whole meal out of it. I needed it to go with some chicken or a sandwich or something of the sort.
But there is something about the flavor here, something deep and onion-like but not overpowering, something almost sweet while still being tangy, with that comfortable starch of the potatoes. It’s what makes Julia Child magical. I almost feel like I could have done almost the exact same thing following a different recipe and I would have had different results, like this soup had flavor depth that I can’t even describe to you just because it is Julia’s.
And if her leek and potato soup (as in really, that’s about all there is in here) is this good, I can’t imagine the rest of the recipes. Sometimes though, there’s a reason things are in a certain order, and I’m glad I started here because I have a feeling it’s only going to get better.
Leek and Potato Soup
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Serves 6-8 people
3 to 4 cups (1 lb.) potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups (1 lb.) leeks, white and green parts, sliced
2 quarts (8 cups) water
1 tablespoons salt
4 to 6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream or butter
Chives or parsley, for garnish
1. In a large pot, combine potatoes, leeks, water, and salt. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 40 to 50 minutes.
2. Use a food mill, blender, or immersion blender, to puree the soup to desired texture.* (This can be done ahead of time and soup set aside and then reheated right before serving).
3. Remove from heat and stir in the cream or butter. Serve warm and garnish with chives or parsley.
*Julia thinks that it should still have a bit of texture, but I prefer it to be as smooth as can be.