December blew in on an icy wind, the kind that whips down the mountainsides and cuts like a knife across the snowy valleys. The only problem was that the snow was missing - and a cold wind that's not tempered by the softness of snow is often unbearable. In such cases a steamy bowl of soup is absolutely necessary to take the edge off - thick and hearty soup, like my grandmother certainly would have made on a day like today. She ate soup everyday and I could always count on there being a pot of some kind or another in her refrigerator when I visited after school. And yes, she used to stash the entire pot in her fridge, sometimes with the wooden spoon still inside, ready to be pulled out and set on a hot burner. I always preferred a bowl of her soup to a cookie or a slice of buttered bread as an afternoon snack.
On Tuesday, the temperature dropped as the wind arrived. I had a few potatoes and leeks leftover from Thanksgiving, so just as soon as I got home from dropping the kids off at school that morning, I was in the kitchen peeling and chopping. I started with Julia Child's recipe for Potage Parmentier - a classic - but as always, after stirring and tasting, I abandoned the original recipe for what I found in the kitchen. Half an onion here, a bay leaf there, a splash of lemon juice for freshness. I left out the cream altogether, as I try to limit the amount of dairy I eat. The creaminess of the potatoes more than makes up for it! As my grandmother would have done, I've had the soup in the fridge, not in the original pot, but ready for lunch everyday, nonetheless. It only gets better as it sits. I was almost sad to ladle the last of it into my bowl today.
Below is the recipe, but of course, its just a guideline. Potatoes are such a versatile "blank-slate," you can add just about any vegetable or herb to this recipe.
Potato & Leek Soup
1 TBSP (plus more for garnish) good extra virgin olive oil (Cobram Estate is one of my favourites)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 large leek, just the white & light green parts, cleaned & chopped
2 large baking potatoes, peeled & chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp lemon juice
salt & pepper
a handful of flat-leaf parsley
Heat the oil in a medium-sized soup pot. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté until just soft. Add the garlic and the leek. Sauté for about 5 minutes longer. Add the potatoes, chicken stock & bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and add the lemon juice. Purée the soup with an immersion blender or pass it through a food mill. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle into bowls & garnish with chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
More of our favourite soup recipes:
Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Rustic Onion Soup
Spicy Sriracha Sunflower Soup