Potato leek soup, also known as potage parmentier, is one of the first soups I ever attempted to prepare from scratch. This version is slightly adapted from Julia Child’s recipe. It has just a few simple ingredients, but the flavor is rich, creamy and satisfying. This potato leek soup recipe is total comfort food.
It has been so long since I read Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell. 12 years, I think? I had mixed feelings about the book, but it was definitely a contributing factor toward me starting a food blog, so I’ll give credit where it’s due.
The book itself is kind of a blur at this point. I immediately blocked out the film version from my memory because I was so annoyed that they didn’t give My Life in France (my favorite memoir) it’s own movie. Whatever, I’m getting side-tracked.
I do remember that Julie and Julia begins with a stressful evening that is calmed by the magic of potage parmentier, or potato leek soup. That chapter always stood out to me because it’s so true. This is a simple soup, a comfort meal. Something to warm the bones after a stressful day.
If you’ve never prepared soup from scratch, this is a great place to start.
- I recommend reading the recipe from start to finish before starting, including the notes. I added one step to the original recipe, which is lightly caramelizing the leeks for more flavor. If you prefer, you can skip this step, save 10 minutes and omit the olive oil since it won’t be necessary. The original recipe is basically: toss everything in a saucepan. Boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20-30 minutes. Puree if you feel like it, or don’t.
- If you’ve never worked with leeks, please note that you only want to use the white and pale green parts. I didn’t know this the first time, and either the recipe wasn’t clear or I skimmed. I added the dark green parts to what became a very… toothsome risotto. Also, leeks are full of grit and need to be rinsed well before using. No one likes gritty soup.
- The original recipe is vegan, which I of course ruined by topping the soup with a dollop of sour cream. You can omit the sour cream for vegan soup, or use a vegan sour cream substitute. This vegan sour cream from Cookie and Kate has great reviews.
What type of potatoes are best for potato leek soup?
Russet and Yukon gold potatoes are the two most common options in potato leek soup. I personally prefer using russets in this recipe because I like the creaminess they add, but you can use either.
More Homemade Soup Recipes
Potato Leek Soup
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cups sliced leeks, white and pale green parts only (about 2 large or 3 medium, see notes)
- 3 cups peeled and roughly chopped russet potatoes (about 2 medium)
- 6 cups water (see notes)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- Optional garnishes: 1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche, fresh chives
- In a large, heavy bottom saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Keep a small cup of water nearby. Add the leeks along with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften. Turn the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whenever a brown glaze forms on the bottom of the pan, drizzle in around 1 tablespoon of water and scrape the brown bits into the leeks. You can turn the heat up or down as needed, but ideally you’ll deglaze the pan at least 3-4 times over the 10 minutes, which adds flavor to the soup. The leeks won’t be the color of caramelized onions after 10 minutes, just a light brown.
- Add the potatoes, water and salt, then bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with the lid ajar to allow steam to escape, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the ingredients are tender. Puree with an immersion blender or food mill, then taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Serve immediately, as is or topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh chives. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and enjoy within 3-4 days.
The original recipe skips the first step of caramelizing the leeks. The olive oil is omitted and the ingredients are simply added straight to the saucepan. This method makes a wonderful soup as well. Pureeing the soup is technically optional, but it’s how I prefer it.
For more flavor you can optionally replace half or all of the water with homemade vegetable or chicken stock. I wouldn’t recommend using store-bought broth in this recipe since there are so few ingredients.
Adapted from Julia's Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking by Julia Child
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