Adapting a Julia Child leek, potato soup recipe

Sherrel Jones adapts a classic Julia Child recipe for potato-leek soup, perfect for winter.
BY SHERREL JONES sjones@justdelish.com Published: February 27, 2013
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Julia simmered the vegetables in water for 50 minutes before running them through a food mill, adding cream and butter and then garnishing with chives or minced parsley. I soften the potatoes and leeks in just enough chicken broth to cover them before finishing with milk and no cream or butter to achieve just the consistency we like.

Every time I saw Julia or visited with her for any length of time, she asked about Oklahoma chef John Bennett. Her genuine affection for people who shared her love of cooking and that intense curiosity of hers propelled her to icon status over the years.

Long before the Julia Child Kitchen was on display in the Smithsonian, I acquired my first edition copy of that classic book from a used bookstore in Washington, D.C. It is still a great read any time of year, but the perfect inspiration on a cold winter day.

Inspired by the recipe beginning on Page 37, I created my own version of this beautiful soup when I didn't have time to peel potatoes, simmer ingredients for 50 minutes and process through a food mill. Just leeks in lieu of onions and celery with the potatoes makes a chunky version of the French classic.

My mother and mother-in-law would have never made potato soup without celery and onions.

The amounts as well as the ratio of ingredients are a suggestion.

Vary them according to what you have on hand and your preference.



Sherrel's Leek and Potato Soup

Make 4 to 6 servings.

2 tablespoons butter

2 or 3 leeks, sliced ¼-inch thick including part of green tops (place slices in large bowl of cold water to allow dirt and debris to fall to bottom of bowl)

2 pounds potatoes, peeled or unpeeled cut in bite-size chunks

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

5 to 6 cups milk

* Seasoning: salt and pepper or 2 chicken bullion cubes (unless you are on sodium restricted diet) fresh parsley to garnish

Wash and slice leeks separating rings that appear to have embedded dirt or debris between layers. Place them in a large bowl or container of cold water. Move them around some in the water allowing dirt and debris to fall to the bottom. The slices can be retrieved from top.

Place butter in large soup pot or Dutch oven (preferably nonreactive) over medium heat. Add cleaned sliced leeks and lower heat slightly. Top with potato chunks and cover for about 10 minutes until potatoes and leeks are steamy hot. Add about 2 cups of broth and simmer another 10 minutes or until potatoes have softened. Stir in milk using less for chunkier thicker soup or more for thinner soup.

Heat until steamy hot but do not boil. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Cooking notes: The original recipe calls for cream and uses water for cooking the potatoes and leeks. Using 2 percent milk works well as the starch from the potatoes adds to the viscosity of the soup. Adjust the amount of milk to vary the ratio of vegetables to liquid.

A summer version can be pureed and served icy cold in chilled cups or bowls.

Other garnishes such as little bits of crunchy bacon or chives can be used.

Create your own version of the soup with the addition of other vegetables.

SOURCE: Adapted from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”

by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck.

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