Potage Parmentier avec Lardon

posted in: Recipes | 6


I began reading Julie and Julia, Julie Powell’s memoir about her year of cooking every single recipe in the 1961 classic cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her first success is the potato soup, or potage parmentier. The soup’s ingredients are potatoes, leeks, butter, cream, and salt. Not such a hard thing to swing on a weeknight when you’ve already got most of the ingredients in your kitchen. Alright, with a little improvisation (substituting red onions for the leeks, milk for cream), you’ve got all of them.

To be exact, Julia Child and her co-authors in MtAoFC call the dish leek or onion and potato soup. And it is every bit, as they quote, “simplicity itself.” I couldn’t resist adding more to it in the way of crumbled crispy bacon and a sprinkle of fresh parsley on top (healthy, veggie alternative: crispy fried onions).

I let my pot of potatoes and onions simmer in water for about an hour or so while hanging out with my friend Ryan who came by to see our new apartment. I don’t really think it needs to cook that long, but I figured it couldn’t hurt, and would only break down the potatoes and onions more so that I had less food processing to do. One of my favorite kitchen tools is my handheld Braun processor. It has a long body upon which there is a button that sets the little circular chopper at its end revolving when pressed. I stir this around in the pot like a magic wand for half a minute and it turns the soup into a nice thick consistency. Of course, you can always use a regular food processor, and return it to the pan. (Before I had either of those, I used to just chop my vegetables very small and then mash it after a long simmer.) I also prefer to maintain a slight chunkiness, or graininess in the texture of my potato soup by not processing it very much.

Now that it’s the week leading up to Christmas, there’s nothing I would rather do than bake: jam thumbprints, pumpkin cranberry nutty dessert loaves, pecan pie, things I’ve never baked before. But since I haven’t had the time to figure out how to use the oven yet, it looks like baking is going to sit out for the season, at least until I head to my parents’ house in NJ.

Potage Parmentier avec Lardon (fancy-pants saying for Potato Soup with Bacon)
(makes 3-4 servings)

4 medium potatoes (any kind), peeled and diced or coarsley chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 Tb butter
1/2 cup milk
4 cups hot water
Salt, black pepper
2 strips crispy bacon
Handful chopped fresh parsley or chives

In a large saucepan or pot, saute the onions in about half of the butter until they begin to turn translucent. Add the chopped potatoes and enough water to submerge it in about an inch (discarding the rest of the water if too much, or adding more if not enough). Cover and simmer for at least 30 min. Blend soup with a food processor. Stir in milk, the rest of the butter, and add salt to taste. Serve in individual bowls with crumbled bacon and herbs on top.

Cost Calculator:
(for 3-4 bowls of soup)

4 yukon gold potatoes (leftover from a huge bag from Thanksgiving): $0.40
3 Tb butter (at $2.99/box): $0.30
1/2 onion: $0.10
1/2 cup milk: $0.15
2 strips bacon (at $3.99/package of 14): $0.58
Handful fresh parsley (at $99/bunch): $0.08

Total: $1.61

Health Factor:

Six brownie points–I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate to those who vouch for the healthiness of French eating habits of a typical French dish like this. Cholesterol is a real thing, and luckily for whomever decides to cook this recipe, you can greatly adjust the level of butter used and scratch off bacon completely at your own leisure. As it is, it’s a comforting, soothing soup, spruced up a little bit with ingredients that happen to be pretty fattening. It’s still comforting and soothing otherwise, though.

6 Responses

  1. Jen

    I just finished the Julie/Julia book and thought it was fantastic. Be damned, all the Amazon readers who hated it – a little cursing and talk of sex never hurt anyone.

    The soup looks fantastic. Congrats!

  2. Yvo

    That sounds pretty good actually. I read Julie/Julia as well and had a vague idea of trying this soup… it sounds so easy. Mmmm. Lardon… hehehe.

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