Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Potato Leek Soup/Onion Soup

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Thanks to 10 days in France, I have a new found love and respect for French cuisine. So I\’ve dusted off my mostly neglected Julia Child masterpiece and started my way through it.

Now before anyone yells \”Stolen Schtick! Stolen Schtick!\”, yes blog one\’s way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking has already been done and it will soon be a major motion picture.

I will make absolutely no attempt to make each and every dish in this book. But I will be working front-to-back and making those items that most interest me. Every couple of weeks I\’ll make something new and give you, my tiny handful of faithful readers that are still out there, my unique and borderline profane take on these classic recipes.

Potato Leek Soup [Potage Parmentier]
I seriously didn\’t expect much from this. All you do is simmer a pound of potatoes and a pound of leeks for 45 minutes — then take an immersion blender to it. Add a little cream or butter in the end, if you want. It\’s so simple, so delicate, so delicious. For added deliciousness, a generous dollop of crème fraîche in the center of the bowl with some freshly chopped chives.

Next time out, I may sautée some bacon in with the leeks before simmering with the potatoes.

Onion Soup [Soupe À L\’Oignon]
My gastronomic leader, Mark Bittman author of How To Cook Everything recommends that if a recipe calls for stock and you don\’t have any, just use water. Store bought stock will actually make the dish taste worse.

Good christ was this true.

I went the easy route and bought two quarts of Kitchen Basics Beef Flavor Cooking Stock, and it cost be a great soup. I didn\’t want to go to the trouble of rounding up beef bones and making stock — huge mistake. The final product, after an hour of carmelizing the onions and producing a beautiful aroma throughout the house, tasted like it had come out of a can. What\’s the point of making homemade soup if it tastes like Campbell\’s???

Next time, I will use more onions and make my own stock.

Next up — Garlic Soup


  1. you should be inviting your friends over to partake in these experiments

  2. Isn't it a bit warm for soups? I always think of soup as a fall/winter meal.I'm also a big fan of bittman's How To Cook Everything.

  3. Yes. It's not exactly soup season. But I'm doing it in the order in the book. Soups were first.

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