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Transported by Potage

January 5, 2012

Certain foods evoke strong memories, and I have always counted soup among my favorite things.

So it’s no surprise that a most humble French soup, Potage, always brings me back to the magic of Paris, thanks to a fantastic trip I took there a few years ago.

It was November, perfect soup weather (then again I think any weather is perfect for soup) and at nearly all the modest restaurants we visited, Potage was on the menu. Every place had its own take, each one delicious.

I came home determined to add Potage to my repertoire.

My cookbook library is generous, but the creamy squash based vegetable soup I’d had in countless varieties throughout the arrondissements didn’t grace a single page in any of my books.

Then one day I stumbled upon a soup recipe in a magazine — the tear sheet bears no indication of which magazine, or I’d certainly include attribution — that sounded like it had the right combination of ingredients.

Voila. Potage.

The last time I made it, as pictured, I tried a new accompaniment — Gruyère Crispettes — based on a recipe for Cheese Crispettes I found at Food52.com. The Crispettes are a sort of cheesey cookie, quite yummy actually, and you might want to give them a try. But the Gruyère toasts in the recipe below are better for the soup, I think, and definitely easier.

Bon Appetit!

You’ll Need:

1 large or 2 small butternut squash
Wash them, then pierce their skins a few times with a knife and microwave for about 10 minutes, until they soften. Let them cool, then peel, seed and roughly chop them.

2 or 3 medium leeks
Wash them, cut off tops & bottoms, roughly chop, cover them with water in a large bowl, swish them around to rinse them well (leeks tend to be sandy), then drain them.

1 large or 2 small russet potatoes
Peel and then roughly chop them.

1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

2 tbs butter

4 cups broth
Either low sodium chicken or vegetable broth works well.

1 cup half & half

Best quality Gruyère, 3 oz for the entire recipe
Don’t be tempted to skimp on this — it’s a key ingredient!

A baguette

A blender or immersion blender
If using a classic blender, don’t fill more than 1/3 full, and cover the lid with a dish towel — hot liquids do crazy things in blenders. If using an immersion blender, don’t use an enameled or other coated soup pot — immersion blenders can damage coated pots.

A large soup pot
This recipe easily serves 8 generously, but Potage freezes beautifully if you’re not intending to feed a crowd. Freeze the finished soup, but save the last step (bread and cheese) til right before you serve it.

Steps

  1. Melt the butter in the soup pot over medium heat
  2. Add the squash, leeks, potatoes, salt and pepper, and saute about 5 minutes, until things start to soften a bit
  3. Add the stock, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook about half an hour, or longer — it’s very forgiving
  4. Puree in batches in a blender, or in the pot with an immersion blender
  5. Add the half & half to the puree, then put the whole lot back on the stove at a simmer
  6. For each serving, slice three 1/2″ rounds from the baguette, top each slice with a piece of Gruyère, and pop the bread and cheese under the broiler until the cheese is fully melted and starting to brown
  7. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the Gruyère toasts
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From → Soup

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