Ultimate Comfort Food: Potage Parmentier

October 8, 2009

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Oh my! This should be renamed “Heaven in a Bowl”! It is so perfectly simple–leeks, potatoes, water and salt—but it becomes something so luscious once cooked and crushed all together… you wonder what kind of magic must have taken place in the pot.

It’s hard to believe that such a few common ingredients can be turned into something so thoroughly interesting and complex. And soothing and comforting—but so far from common! It does make my list of “Ultimate Comfort Foods”—but one that just as often makes me want to pour myself a great glass of red and pull out the linen napkins to go with it. Sometimes comfort can be dressed up at the table, no?

To make this wonderful soup even more fun there is “lore” to go along with it! Read on:

Soup Tale: France was beset with famine following the Seven Year War (1756-1763). Native son Antoine Auguste Parmentier, who had been fed the so-called poisonous potato root in a German prison-of-war camp, returned to France to find his country men starving. He set up potato soup kitchens throughout Paris to assist the poor. Ultimately, Louis XVI recognized his work by saying, “France will thank you some day for having found bread for the poor.” In fact, he is best honored by the pleasure his country take in digesting Potage Parmentier.So really, you’re eating a part of history when you enjoy a bowl of Potage Parmentier. It comforted the poor starving masses back in the 18th Century…as it does this 21st Century gal in New York City—and last night, as I made a deliciously large double batch–more than a few of my neighbors as well!

Potage Parmentier

Serves 6-8 as a first course

3 cups Leeks, white and tender green parts, rinsed throughly, sliced
3 cups Potatoes, sliced
8 cups Water
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt **
6 Tablespoons Heavy Cream or Butter**

In a large pot or Dutch oven, simmer the leeks, potatoes, water and salt until very tender, about 45 minutes. Puree the mixture**, then correct seasoning.

When ready to serve, stir in the cream or butter. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

**Some notes:

Yes, it really takes a tablespoon of Kosher or Sea Salt! If using regular salt, reduce greatly.

Stir in whatever you prefer–be it butter or cream or half-n-half or milk—just a bit adds so much to the final dish–it’s worth it!

To puree: use a food mill if you have one—the resulting bits of leek and potato are perfect. But you can always use a immersion blender or food processor, etc., you will just end up with something more silky smooth, a bit more elegant even…but just as delicious!


Filed Under: Diet-Friendly, Recipe, Savory, Soup, Vegetarian-Friendly

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