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Leek and Potato Soup   printer-friendly
By Charlie Burke

Leek and potato soup is a French classic, and I can think of few recipes which
reward the cook with such intense aromas and flavors from so few ingredients.

Called “Potage Parmentier” in France, leek and potato soup consists of only
leeks, potatoes and water, enriched with small amounts of butter and milk or
cream. Inexpensive, quick and easy to prepare, leek and potato soup is served
in homes and restaurants throughout France and belongs in any cook’s
repertoire.

Some recipes call for using chicken broth or stock, but I prefer water which does
not mask the earthy taste of potato and the sweetness of the leeks. For the same
reason, I use little butter to “sweat” the leeks and add perhaps a half cup of
skim milk and a half cup of cream just before serving. In the summer, I decrease
the water by two cups and replace it with skim milk. This soup, pureed and
served ice cold, is “
Vichyssoise” which appeared in a previous column.

Serves 6 – 8

4 cups sliced leeks, including light green leaves
5 cups roughly chopped peeled potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 quarts water
½ - 1 cup skim or whole milk
½ cup heavy cream (optional)
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground white or black pepper

In a large heavy bottomed pot melt the butter over low heat, add the leeks and
sprinkle lightly with salt. Cover the pot and cook the leeks, stirring occasionally,
until they are soft but not browned. Add the flour, increase the heat to moderate
and stir the leeks and flour for 3 minutes.

Add two cups of water and stir until the flour is incorporated into the water and
then add the potatoes, the remaining water and 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring the
water to a boil and then simmer over low heat until the potatoes are cooked (30
– 40 minutes).

Mash the potatoes into small pieces, add the milk and cream, if using, and add
salt and pepper to taste. Serve the soup plain or garnished with chives or
parsley.

Leeks and potatoes are a natural combination, and this soup perfectly captures
their flavors. It is peasant fare, but we serve it on any occasion. For more formal
meals, use a blender or immersion blender to create a smooth, sophisticated
version.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather
Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
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Leek and Potato Soup, Photo by Charlie Burke
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