Top | Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1

Potage Parmentier (Leek or Onion and Potato Soup)

(recipe, Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck)

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Leek and potato soup smells good, tastes good, and is simplicity itself to make. It is also versatile as a soup base; add watercress and you have a watercress soup, or stir in cream and chill it for a vichyssoise. To change the formula a bit, add carrots, string beans, cauliflower, broccoli, or anything else you think would go with it, and vary the proportions as you wish.


  1. 3 to 4 cups (1 lb.) peeled potatoes, sliced or diced
  2. 3 cups (1 lb.) thinly sliced leeks, including the tender green, or yellow onions
  3. 2 qt. water
  4. 1 Tbsp. salt
  5. 4 to 6 Tbsp. whipping cream or 2 to 3 Tbsp. softened butter
  6. 2 to 3 Tbsp. minced parsley or chives


  1. Either simmer the vegetables, water, and salt together, partially covered, for 40 to 50 minutes until the vegetables are tender, or cook under 15 pounds pressure for 5 minutes, release pressure, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
  2. Mash the vegetables in the soup with a fork, or pass the soup through a food mill. Correct seasoning. Set aside uncovered until just before serving, then reheat to the simmer.
  3. Off the heat and just before serving, stir in the cream or butter by spoonfuls. Pour into a tureen or soup cups and decorate with the herbs.


Potage au Cresson (Watercress Soup): Follow the preceding recipe, but before puréeing the soup, stir in 1/4 lb. (1 packed cup) watercress leaves and tender stems, and simmer for 5 minutes. Off the heat and just before serving, stir in the cream or butter by spoonfuls. Optional decoration: a small handful of watercress leaves boiled for 30 seconds in water, rinsed in cold water, and drained. Vichyssoise (Cold Leek and Potato Soup): Simmer 3 cups peeled and sliced potatoes and 3 cups sliced leeks, white parts only, in 1 1/2 quarts of white stock, chicken stock, or canned chicken broth. Add salt to taste and purée the soup either in an electric blender or through a food mill and then through a fine sieve. Stir in 1/2 to 1 cup whipping cream, then season to taste with salt and white pepper, oversalting very slightly as salt loses savor in a cold dish. Chill. Serve in chilled soup cups and decorate with 2 to 3 Tbsp. minced chives. Culinate editor's notes: For a heartier flavor, replace half of the water with chicken or vegetable stock. For a thicker soup (the recipe makes a fairly thin soup), halve the total liquid or double the potatoes and leeks, from about 2 Russet potatoes and 2 large leeks to 4 each. An immersion blender works well for the puréeing. And other fresh herbs, such as dill or chervil, make a nice change from parsley.