Thursday, December 8, 2011

Leek and Potato Soup

If you're in Paris and your pocketbook allows, I'd be among the first to say treat yourself to an evening of haute cuisine at one of the city's top restaurants.  Indulge in dinner at Hotel Meurice's dining room, for instance, and you'll feel like you're among the privileged in 17th century Versailles, complete with rococo decor and waiters who gather at your table to ceremoniously release the silver domes atop your plates in a synchronized flourish. It's an experience that will stay with you forever.

But when you want a simple meal to nourish the soul and stomach, especially at lunchtime, there are a plethora of places to pop in for a quick bite. Paris is loaded with quaint bistros offering traditional fare at a reasonable price. Typical of them is the leek and potato soup I ate at one place in Montmartre. It wasn't quite enough though, so I ordered a platter of bleu cheese accompanied by a small salad and bread.

Savory tartes, or quiches are everywhere, such as this tarte with three cheese I ate at the pavillion in the Luxembourg gardens:

And that was after a little snack of roasted chestnuts at the entrance to the gardens.

By now, you know I've got a sweet tooth that longs to be satisfied, so I gave in every day. This cup of tea and berry-topped mini charlotte was obviously meant for me.

This small oval treat of tender chocolate cake, filled with cream and cherries, topped with a luscious chocolate ganache, just melted in the mouth.

After the overload of desserts, I took a pause from sweets when I got home and made the leek and potato soup instead, using a recipe I adapted from Debby of Foodie Wife.  Besides, I don't think I could ever duplicate that chocolate treat. But I have to admit, the leek and potato soup made chez moi was even better than the version I ate in Paris. 

Leek and Potato Soup

Printable Recipe

1 T. unsalted butter

2 T. olive oil

2 leeks, thinly sliced and washed free of debris

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic

1 quart chicken stock

a few sprigs of fresh thyme

2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

salt, pepper to taste

Put the butter and olive oil into a large, heavy pan and saute the leeks, onion and garlic until translucent. Add the potatoes, white wine, chicken stock, salt and pepper and cook at a low simmer, with the lid askew, for about 1/2 hour, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Remove the stems of the fresh thyme. At this point, I put the mixture into the blender, a small amount at a time. Be careful though, because it can easily splatter all over you and the kitchen. Instead of using the lid in its entirety, I remove the little plug that's in the center of the lid, and cover it with paper towel while the blender is going. It gives the hot liquid a way to release the steam without "blowing" off the lid. Some people like to use a stick blender, but I prefer a counter-top blender - your choice.

Put the soup back in the pot and add the heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Cook another 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with a garnish of caramelized onions and snippets of fresh chives and parmesan cheese toasts.

2 large onions, sliced and slowly sauteed in 2 T. butter until golden brown
fresh chives

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  1. A wonderful lunch and tasty soup!



  2. Comfort food at its really brought me back to Paris with this post...I loved eating my way through France!
    ♥, Susan

  3. those chestnuts look wonderful! I bet they taste so much better than the ones we roast in the ove!

  4. This looks delicious! Potato Leek is one of my all time favorite soups!

  5. You know I love the Paris pics....I have those A Toute Heure white bistro plates! I love them!
    We have never eaten in the fancy places in the hotels, afraid of the $800 price tag, but this yr we are indulging on the right bank!

  6. That dining room is so beautiful as well as those desserts, you really know how to eat girlfriend! That soup is coming to a kitchen in Chicagoland real soon!

  7. Parmesan in the soup? Can you hear me squealing? The dining room is another era - a time machine. Yes, the desserts made me swoon - sugar all dressed up does that - but the woman with the chestnuts put the biggest smile on my face!

  8. this looks like my Christmas eve soup. And I, too, love the chestnut woman!

  9. I loved this post, Linda. I was right there, in each restaurant. I savored each word, and drooled that that chocolate dessert. Then I saw my soup! I'm deeply honored, Linda, as you are high on my pedestal as the cook of cooks (and most interesting travel/food writer). How I was craving a bowl of that, today. Love your version a lot.

  10. That dining room is palatial! Love leek & potato soup and it's tastier when served in such a lovely bowl!

  11. I am taking your recipe now. I will give you credit for it too.

    Do you do a cold version? In the summer I like to indulge in the "Creme Vichyssoise Glacee" supposedly sanctioned by Louis Diat back when he contributed to Gourmet Magazine. I think yours sounds much better, but you are serving this warm. Do you think it would be as good served cold (for future reference)?

    I have so been in a French Faire mood the past week. Been drinking my own easy version of a French Style Coffee (never had the pleasure of visiting France).

    You working vacation looks and sounds so wonderful. I heard years ago that the prices in Paris were astronomical, so I am very happy to live your vacation vicariously through your photo's and blog.

    I loved it.

  12. Your pictures are always great! Love this soup especially in the winter.

  13. nessun posto è come Parigi, grazie per questo splendido reportage Linda!

  14. Glad you had such a fun time in Paris! I love the caramelized onion garnish on your soup...

  15. A simple soup like this, with a green salad and cheese, is just the kind of supper we have almost every night during the cold weather months. One of the small but profound joys of cooking at home is enjoying just this kind of thing.

    And, as wonderful as magnificent haute cuisine restaurants are, if I had my choice for a final meal, I'd take the homely soup and salad every time.

  16. The food in the cafes and bistros of Paris is always so good. I had the best quiche there that I have ever tasted and never have been able to duplicate it. But there is nothing better than a pot of homemade soup. This looks like a wonderful recipe, Linda.

  17. Sheryll - I guess you could eat this soup cold - plenty of people do, but I prefer it hot.

  18. I would love to dine at a quaint bistro in Paris, or buy roasted chestnuts from a street vendor or a pastry at a patisserie. For now, a bowl full of your delicious potato leek soup will bring the dream of Paris home.

  19. Come tu sai ho viaggiato poco, Parigi è uno di quei luoghi che mi piacerebbe molto visitare. Bellissimo il reportage e in particolare le foto dei piatti, complimenti per la tua ricetta. Un abbraccio, buona settimana Daniela

  20. Love the memories of Paris. And the soup looks terrific. I just today received a new cookbook as a gift, Eleven Madison Park, where we ate a fabulous meal in 2008.

    Less than an hour ago I read a chapter where they reference Hotel Meurice! So neat to see a pic of the dining room just now.

  21. That soup is what I need right now!

    I sometimes add fennel (the slender stalks at the top)sliced real thin to my potato soup.I add them at the same time as the onion.

    Thank youfor all of you sharing.