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Potage Parmentier

December 7, 2009

One of the many faces of potato-leek soup

Or, to put it less fancily, potato-leek soup.  Potatoes and leeks being winter staples, this soup (and its multitude of variations) get a workout all season long.  Not only is is extremely simple – sauté leeks in butter, add water or stock, add peeled, diced potatoes and boil until tender, purée, finish with cream if you like – it is also incredibly versatile.

The French have come up with all kinds of names for this concoction, potage parmentier being the name for this particular variety of puréed potato-leek soup.  It is so named for the guy who, in the 18th century, popularized the use of the potato in French cuisine.  Before that, the “exotic” new-world tuber was considered at best animal feed and at worst poison.  The French culinary repertoire owes him a large debt of gratitude, though naming this delicious soup after him is a good start.

But potage parmentier is only the beginning…

Serve it chilled, and it become vichyssoise.  Add julienned leeks, carrots, celery, and turnip, and you have potage julienne Darblay.  If you don’t blend it, potage parisien is the result.  A potage parisien with ribbons of steamed greens such as lettuce, sorrel, and spinach, is called potage à la maraîchère.  And so on.

No, there is absolutely no shortage of hearty potato-leek soups to keep warm with through the colder months.

Originally published on Seasonal Market Menus.


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