Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Potage Parmentier - French Leek & Potato Soup



Potage Parmentier, better known as Leek and Potato soup, was one of my late father-in-law Jim’s favorite soups and one he prepared almost every week. Jim passed away late this October peacefully in his sleep of natural causes. He missed celebrating his 99th birthday by about five weeks. He was quite the gourmet cook and during his career ate in some of the finest restaurants in Manhattan. Jim still lived at home and cooked most of his own meals. He kept his mind sharp doing the New York Times crossword puzzle and reading. He was trim and slim, stopped smoking when the Surgeon General told the world to stop a zillion years ago, and was the picture of good health.

Four generations - 1995
People have asked did Jim know the secret of how stay in good health as you age. He would have probably told you no, but I’ll share some of my observations of his eating habits that I think contributed to his good health.  His style of eating was very similar to the Europeans, in that he enjoyed the art of dining, always had his meals at the dinner table, and sipped a glass of wine during conversations at dinner at a leisurely pace. His diet was well balanced, he didn’t eat “on the run,” never ate in-between meals or indulged in snacks or junk food, and would not eat anything that did not taste good even, if it was a food he enjoyed. As an example, recently I sliced a cantaloupe for breakfast for him, which I knew he liked, and noticed he took only one bite. When I asked why he didn’t finish his cantaloupe, he said, “It didn’t taste good.” I looked down at my own plate and noticed that I had eaten all of my cantaloupe and just realized when he said it that mine didn't really didn’t taste good either. An “ah ha” moment for me.

Any dish whose description contains the word “Parmentier” will contain potatoes – a handy thing to know when reading a French menu. Potage Parmentier is named after the Frenchman Antoine Augustine Parmentier, a mid-18th century potato advocate. Julia Child called Potage Parmentier “simplicity itself” in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It’s also a very versatile soup base. For instance, just add watercress and voila, you have watercress soup. Chill it and you have vichyssoise. It doesn’t get much simplier than that.


Potage Parmentier – French Leek and Potato Soup
Adapted from Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells

1 pound starchy potatoes, such as Idaho, peeled and cut into a large chunks
2 leeks, trimmed, well rinsed, and julienned
1 quart of water
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
¾ cup heavy cream or crème fraiche
For a garnish: 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs, such as tarragon (my personal favorite), chives, or flat-leaf parsley

Combine the potatoes, leeks, and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and add some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the potatoes and leeks are very soft, about 25 to 35 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes.

Carefully puree the soup in a blender or a food processor (or pass through a food mill). Return to the saucepan. Add the cream and cook over low heat just until heated through. Adjust the salt and pepper and serve garnished with the fresh herb of your choice. Can be kept covered in the refrigerator for several days. Reheat gently. Serves 4 to 6.


This recipe will be linked to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum and Miz Helen’s Full Plate Thursday.

60 comments:

  1. I'm sorry for your loss. It sounds as though your FIL was a wonderful man, not to mention a good cook.

    I was just thinking about making a potato soup a few moments ago! Thank you for sharing this recipe and memories about your beloved FIL.

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  2. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    This soup looks really appetizing! Indeed, food contributes to one's well-being.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your FIL. What an inspiration he must have been and still is to many.

    This soup sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing.

    FlowerLady

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  4. I would have to say that creamy potato soups are without a doubt my favourite. This looks like a very good one Sam. Thanks for sharing your FIL with us and his "secrets".

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  5. I enjoyed reading this post about your father-in-law. We should all be so lucky to live a good long life, valuing the things that matter and disregarding those that don't (the canteloupe that isn't "worth" eating)! Looks like a good recipe too. By the way, I made your cranberry bleu cheese crostini for New Year's Eve, and had cranberry maple syrup on cornmeal pancakes for breakfast the next day! Yum, thanks for sharing! :)

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  6. Love the 4 generations:)I love the way you depicted him..and how true..cantaloupe is one of those foods that is either spot on or off..full of sweetness..or as bland as cardboard.What a rich life he lived and what a glorious way to leave.
    I am also sorry for your loss..but please God let me go that way also~
    You photographed a soup that is hard to photo very well!I truly enjoy that soup also.

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  7. What a wonderful tribute to your father-in-law!
    It is so good to hear about a beloved person who really enjoyed life and lived it to its fullest, healthy to the end.

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  8. I am sorry to hear about the loss of your father in law. He sounds like a wonderful man.

    I love potato leek soup, and I need to start eating like your father in law....

    It seems we spend every meal in front of the TV and eat mindlessly.

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  9. Ah, a welcome soup for our cold days (your's too I think). It is one of our favorites. Although we enjoy cold soups, I've never chilled this one.

    Your father-in-law sounds like a man who was wise in the ways of the table and life. I'm sure you all miss him very much.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  10. I enjoyed this post. Your father in law was a wise man, I can tell. I would love to make this simple dish. Thanks Sam.

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  11. What a beautiful tribute to your husband's dad; love the picture of the 4 generations.
    That is a soup I often made; started many years ago with my first food pricessor and cooked it in the microwave. Haven't made this in a very long time; thanks for the reminder; will pick up some leeks on Friday.
    Rita

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  12. It can't be much more simple than that! This is a lovely tribute to your FIL and filled with love. I am so sorry for your loss.
    I must remember that if it doesn't taste really good...there is no reason to eat it!

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  13. it always saddens me to hear o people like your uncle, with such simple wisdoms, leave the world. Living up to 98, he seems to have had(apart from being blessed with good health)some knowledge and wisdom we could all learn from. so sorry for your loss of such a special person...your soup is a lovely dedication though and reminder of how simple, yet elegant and flavorful and versatile food should be.
    ronelle

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  14. I knew from the title I was about to learn something here. I'm a fan of vichyssoise, but Bev doesn't care for the cold soup and always turns her nose up, but will eat it hot. Next time I'll tell I'm making Potage Parmentier then eat mine cold the next day.

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  15. You were very fortunate to have such a dear father-in-law. And your soup....just about now in cold Florida, this sounds perfect.

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  16. I love the mixture of leeks and potatoes! This looks perfect for a cold winter day

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  17. Cheers to Jim! If only we would embrace the European way of eating, and hope that Europeans will continue to try to avoid our "on the run" style of eating.

    Spending time in Europe altered my eating style dramatically. It was a change that would i would embrace and continue.

    Cheers.
    Velva

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  18. Thank you fro telling us about your father-in-law. He sounds like a wise man.

    Putting leeks on the shopping list now...

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  19. Your father-in-law sounds like he was an extraordinary man. Disciplined but filled with the joy of life. How wonderful that he was part of your life for so long.

    This soup is indeed one of the better matches of all time. Potatoes and leeks soar together. I love the simplicity. When it works - you do not need to embellish!

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  20. So sorry for your loss. But what a wonderful life! We should all eat like him and savor every moment.

    I am facing a dental procedure tomorrow and creamy potato soup sounds like just the thing to get me through the pain. Wishing you and Meakin a wonderful New Year.

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  21. Very inspirational and a wonderful tribute to your father in law. His favorite soup is also one of mine and I make something very similar to your recipe quite often.
    I enjoyed reading this very much;-)

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  22. A lovely tribute to your father-in-law. I like his favourite soup too. Made leek soup the other day, but not as creamy and good like yours. I must try your recipe next time.

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  23. Bien réconfortant et extra pour la détox
    Je te souhaite une bonne journée, ici la tempête de vent est rude.
    Valérie.

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  24. Very nice post Sam. Loved reading about your father-in-law. Over the years, I'm just learning about the European style of meals and like the theory. And you've inspired me to have potato soup tonight for dinner. It's one of our favorites.

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  25. Your father-in-law was a special person for sure – thanks for telling us about him. I was sick during the holidays and did not cook or even wished to eat much – so sad. I like the potage Parmentier and need to cook it again – I love soups in winter and create many. I did make hoppin’ John and turnip greens in Nashville over New Year so we could have a prosperous New Year. I like this southern custom – it is tasty too. Hope your New Year repas was delicious and I wish you now a great 2012 with happiness and good health.

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  26. Sounds like we could all learn from your Father-n-laws way of life. The soup looks yummy!

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  27. Sorry about your FIL, Sam. This is my sister's favorite potato soup. She is very into French cooking and learned under Julia's tutelage via TV early on. Your photos, as usual, are stunning.

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  28. I loved reading about your father-in-law, Sam. What a amazing age to achieve - especially for a man. He certainly was a bon vivant. This soup sounds delightful! I love potato soups.

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  29. This soup looks beautiful, and I love the story :) I'm hosting a weekly blog carnival specifically for soups, stocks and chowders, every Sunday! I would love it if you would come over and post this recipe. Here's a link with more information:

    http://easynaturalfood.com/2011/10/17/introducing-sunday-night-soup-night/

    I hope to see you there!
    Debbie

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  30. Thank you for your visit and kind comments. Wishing you everything of the best for the New Year. x Sharon

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  31. What a nice way to remember your FIL. Good to know that we can still learn things from our elders. :) This soup is simplicity at it's best! I just love the flavors of leeks, and in this soup with potatoes it just sings!

    I like the 4 generations photo. I have one where I am the youngest of the 4 genterations. I wonder where that is? Have a wonderful weekend Sam!

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  32. Sam, I am sorry for your family's loss. Jim's way of eating sounds very intuitive, and I think this nation would be a lot healthier if they kept it simple like his did. I love this recipe, especially the use of creme fraiche. A little goes a long way.

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  33. The "Four Generations" photo is a great treasure, Sam. I'm sorry about your loss, but the memories are wonderful. My dad lived to be 94 and my mother 92. Dad was alert to the day he died.
    A wonderful leek and potato soup recipe, Sam. I love Patricia Wells recipes!
    Happy New Year to you and yours!

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  34. Such a great tribute to you father-in -law. We certainly can learn a lot from our relatives no matter how old or young! The soup is a real winner~can not wait to try it! This is special~

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  35. I am so sorry for your loss. This potato soup has so much good memories in them and they look very comforting.

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  36. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your father-in-law. Sounds like he was a wonderful man.
    The potoato soup looks so good and it would be great on a cold, winter day.

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  37. That is a great shot of Meakin and his dad. Are ya'll going to be in NC in February? We are looking at a stay in Sylva/Dillsboro for our anniversary and would love to meet up with you two for lunch while we're there.

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  38. Very nice post about your father in law...such a nice tribute. Like the picture of the generations...
    The potato soup with leek looks delicious, so delicate.
    Hope you are having a great weekend.

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  39. I hope I am as active and enjoy life as much as Jim did when I am in my 90's. He sounds like a very special person and I'm sorry for your loss, Sam. Potato leek is one of my favorite soups, such a nice change after all the rich holiday foods.

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  40. Hey Sam,
    I am so sorry for your loss, my friend!

    This soup is also a classic Belgian soup & is eaten a lot in Belgian households.
    Your soup looks georgous presented in your stylish soup bowls!

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  41. Hi Sam,
    What a lovely presentation for you Potage Parmentier it is a delicious soup. This is a wonderful tribute to your Father In Law, he must have been a very special man. Hope you are having a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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  42. I love potato leek soup hot or served cold. It is simple but still one of the best soups. It sounds like he had a wonderful life and I'm sure you miss him.

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  43. This looks delicious. He sounds like an interesting man we all would have enjoyed having at the dinner table.

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  44. I could learn a lot from Jim and thanks so much for sharing about him. The soup is gorgeous - beautifully photographed and the ingredients sound delicious - it's a fave with my 16 year old!
    mary x

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  45. Dear Sam, Your father-in-law was very wise. It is true that following good common sense is the key to good living. I will keep you and yours in my prayers.
    Potato leek soup is one of my favorites. Yours looks perfect. Blessings for a good day. Catherine xo

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  46. I moaned out loud the minute I saw this! (glad no one else was in the room)....YUM!
    Jim sounds like he was a wonderful man and lived a ripe old age.

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  47. Sam, what a wonderful tribute to your father-in-law and although I am truly sorry for your loss, how wonderful he enjoyed such a long, full life and that his life itself was full of lessons and wisdom for others. I learned to eat the European way when I moved to France and everyone should adapt it! And what a perfect soup and one I have long wanted to make myself. Perfect! xo Hug to you and Meakin.

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  48. Jim's lifestyle was surely one to be emulated. It's a cool, rainy NC day. and I can hardly wait to try your soup tonight. It sounds delicious!!

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  50. Im sorry for your look dear Sam, and this soup look really comfortable:) blessings!

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  51. This is such a lovely soup, Sam. I've never met anyone who does not enjoy it. Your words about Jim are a lovely remembrance of a man who was quite special and sounds interesting. He would appreciate them, I'm sure. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

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  52. Tasty looking soup, especially highlighted in these pretty cups!

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  53. Great lessons! And a lovely tribute. It is true, isn't it, that one's attitudes toward food tells more about yourself that just the food. He sounds like a classy and tasteful man, and your soup is perfectly suited.

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  54. So sorry to hear about your father-in-law Sam. Sounds like you have such wonderful memories of him. Your soup really speaks to me and I can't wait to try it.

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  55. sounds like a wonderful guy and wow what a soup :-) love it look forward to your pins Sam :-)

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  56. I'm sorry to hear about your father-in-law's passing. Sounds like he was a wonderful man and a real treat to know. I always enjoy hearing about men who cook. I find it so endearing.

    Your soup looks so elegant!

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  57. I love that story about Jim! My father in law is 92, healthy , has a 95 year old lady friend [his wife passed away about 6 years ago] and is sharp as a tack. You CAN grow old and still be healthy!!!! He has a garden and he is on facebook!
    I love soup and the Cranberry & Blue Cheese Crostini, so I may have to break my rule and cook something :)

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  58. Congratulations!
    Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday for the 1st Anniversary Party. Hope you have a good week end and enjoy your new Red Plate!
    Miz Helen

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  59. Great tribute to your Father in Law. Very delicious looking soup and great pictures (all around)!

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Sam