The essence of simplicity

Dinner:  September 11, 2007

Julia Child’s Potage Parmentier – the little black dress of soups. Every time we make this, I am amazed at how the combination of potatoes, leeks, water and salt leaves us slurping the very last dregs out of our bowls. How is it that a recipe so simple, so spare, is so unfailingly delicious?

My creation

I did guild the lily just a bit here, giving my leeks a brief sauté in butter before adding the potatoes, water and salt, and I melted a couple of healthy blobs of sour cream into the soup after pureeing, but those additions are hardly necessary. While the recipe as written lends itself to embellishment, it stands on its own as a true classic.

14 thoughts on “The essence of simplicity

  1. I’ve been craving soup so much more lately than I normally do. I had my wisdom teeth out not this past Thursday, but the week prior – yeah, I spent my holiday recovering from not only the surgery (impacted teeth!), but the God-awful meds they put me on. Those things KILLED my stomach.

    I digress. 🙂 Anyway, Monday after a movie, we decided to eat out. We went to the Claim Jumper. I’m not one for chain restaurants, to be honest with you; I like a home-owned place that has character and recipes you won’t find anywhere else. Sadly, Phoenix doesn’t have an abundance of non-chain options, at least not for someone new to the city and unfamiliar with how to find them. I’d imagine your area has a lot of small restaurants and shops as well?

    I couldn’t chew much of ANYTHING and ended up getting the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Something about it just cried out to me, possibly being that I haven’t had clam chowder since I was in the bay area.

    Ever since then, I’ve craved MORE of that chowder. Other soups sound SO awesome. I think it also has to do with actually MISSING cold weather. It should be getting cold, chilly even! It’s nearing fall, or is the start of it, in the town I grew up in (Reno, NV).. and here, it’s still easily over 100 degrees each day. Miserable!!

    This is just further inspiration for soup. I’ll probably end up making a coconut curry soup with rice later this week, I just need to run to the store and get the coconut milk.

    Thanks for the post! Also, I hope you don’t mind my comments. I tend to write a lot when I talk about food… it just puts me in the best of moods. Let me know if you do, and I’ll try to shorten my compliments.

  2. Jennifer Hess says:

    Wow, thanks, ladies! I am a big fan of soups of all kinds, and I’m glad we’re finally getting some cooler temperatures so I can start cooking them again. 🙂

    Toni, don’t worry about long comments, I love reading them!

  3. Sally says:

    This soup is one of my favorites indeed… thanks for reminding me of it!

    My poor Julia Child’s book is falling apart, is not as photogenic as yours… 🙂

    Nice photos, as always!

  4. I think I’m just going to start making soups anyway. 🙂 Whether or not it’s cold – it might even be comforting since I miss the cold weather!

    MAYBE I’ll put my air conditioning down to 60 degrees, and that will make it seem colder, and THEN we’ll have soups! Haha, too bad that would cost too much to actually do.

  5. Jennifer Hess says:

    Thanks, Sally! I have to admit, I’ve only had my copies of Julia for a couple of years – they were a gift from my husband, and he got them in wonderful condition from Bonnie Slotnick’s here in the city.

    Toni – I say go for it! Soup is great any time! 🙂

  6. Jennifer, thanks for posting about this soup! When I was making vichyssoise for the first time recently, I came across this recipe and wondered how it was, making a mental note to try it when the weather turned cooler. It almost sounded too simple to me, but coming from Julia, I figured it had to be good. Still, I think your idea of sautéing the leeks first is a good one. I’ll definitely give this one a shot.

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