I’m ashamed to admit this, as a proud foodie, but this was my first Julia Child recipe. I’ve been intimidated by Julia, and her cookbooks, for several reasons, including:
1) All the French words. (And nowhere did I find the phrase “I am a pineapple,” which is pretty much all the French I know.)
2) The sheer volume of butter and cream.
3) Her height. I’m 4’11”. Julia was tall enough to conk me on the head with a copper pot without lifting her arm.
Suffice it to say, these factors had me staying away from Julia. Far, far away. But, like most foodies and bloggers and food bloggers, I made a beeline for the movie theater when Julie and Julia came out, and despite the ridiculous amount of butter in that movie, I decided to get over The Fear and give Julia a chance. I started small, as you can see, with potage parmentier, or potato and leek soup, which happened to be the first recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 and the first dish that Julie Powell cooked in Julie and Julia. It only seemed appropriate, and there really wasn’t much butter at all. Bonus! I cut the recipe in half and made a couple of tweaks. I hope Julia doesn’t mind. If she does, I’ll have to look out for copper pots…
Potato and Leek Soup
2 cups potatoes, peeled and medium-diced
1 1/2 cups leeks, rinsed well and medium-diced
1 quart chicken stock
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter (it’s Julia, after all)
- In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, warm the chicken stock. Add the diced potatoes and leeks, bring to a boil, and then turn down to low immediately. Simmer, partially (mostly) covered, approximately 50 minutes, until the potatoes and leeks are softened.
- In a food mill or with an immersion blender (not a food processor), process or blend soup until consistency is smooth or chunky, as you prefer. If necessary, thin with water to bring consistency to desired point.
- Stir in a pat of butter (approximately a tablespoon, but you can do more if you want to because it’s Julia) and season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with chives and serve in cream soup bowls.
Source: Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1.