If you’ve read even one or two of my other articles here, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I am a foodie, hardcore. So, it’s become a peculiar brand of irksome to me to have to contend with the following comment every time I mention Julia Child:
“Oh! You mean like Julie and Julia?”
No, I don’t effing mean like Julie effing Powell and Julia Child, I just mean Julia Effing Child! As it turns out, though I will acknowledge that food and feelings seem inextricably linked in our culture (and in others), some people are capable of writing about cooking French food without it devolving into an uncivilized rant about their devoted husbands. Ahem. Anyway, my point is, Julia Child has long been an authority on excellent home culinary skills long before the advent of blogs. And one of the things that makes her an authority is her intuitive sense of how to make recipes not just clear to the experienced chef but replicable to the beginner.
Well, I am neither. I am merely a home cook who tries to make things taste good, and I get excited over cooking geekery like herbes de Provence and truffle salt. I know how to wing it, sure; I’ve made Chef Julia’s recipes before, but I’ve often dressed them up to more than they were meant to be. This weekend, I decided to make a little return to simpler things in honor of the incoming autumn season. Here’s the result.
(Leek or Onion & Potato Soup)
- A 3-4 quart saucepan
- 3-4 cups (about 1 pound) peeled and diced potatoes
- 3 cups (about 1 pound) thin-sliced leeks, including the tender green or yellow onion
- 2 quarts water
- 1 tablespoon (to start) salt
- 4-6 tablespoons whipping cream or 2-3 tablespoons softened butter
- 2-3 tablespoons minced parsley or chives.
1. To quote the illustrious Julia, “Simmer the vegetables, water, and salt together, partially covered, for 40 to 50 minutes until the vegetables are tender.” I should note that I used leeks and not onions because I like how they look more than onions, and they serve as a better source of, erm, fiber than onions do.
2. Julia says, “Mash the vegetables in the soup with a fork,” but I used a potato masher, because hello, there is like 3-4 quarts total of food and water and whatnot there; it was a big job, and I didn’t want to meticulously mash it all up with a little three-pronged fork. The potato masher worked just fine. She continues, “Correct seasoning,” and I took this as incentive to liberally add another tablespoon or two of salt as well as a few shakes of white pepper.
3. Then she says, “Turn off heat, and just before serving, stir in the cream by spoonfuls.”
4. And finally, garnish with your chives or whatever and serve that stuff! See? It’s lovely. The great thing about this soup is that, while it isn’t bland, it’s extremely basic and could withstand the addition of plenty of different herbs, spices, meats, vegetables, etc. You can even chill it and then add cream for a beautiful vichyssoise.