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Potage Parmentier and Vichyssoise

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 15 October 2010 at 15:09

Potage Parmentier is named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier; Wiki explains: 

Quote Antoine-Augustin Parmentier (Montdidier August 12, 1737 – December 13, 1813) is remembered as a vocal promoter of the potato as a food source (for humans) in France and throughout Europe....Two dishes are named after Parmentier -some historians claim any dish containing potatoes can be called "parmentier" but the truth is all potato dishes have a different name. Pommes Parmentier is 1 cm diced cubed potatoes fried in butter (bacon, onions garlic or herbs can be added), the second dish named after the man who hightened the culinary interest of potatoes is potage Parmentier, a leek and potato soup (pureed). Unpureed, the soup is referred to as potage Parisien.
 
Evidently Mssr. Parmentier had quite a row to hoe (no pun intended) in his promotion of the potato. Wiki continues:
 
Quote While serving as an army pharmacist for France in the Seven Years' War, he was captured by the Prussians, and in prison in Prussia was faced with eating potatoes, known to the French only as hog feed. The potato had been introduced to Europe as early as 1640, but (outside of Ireland) was usually used for animal feed. King Frederick II of Prussia had required peasants to cultivate the plants under severe penalties and had provided them cuttings. In 1748 the French Parliament had actually forbidden the cultivation of the potato (on the ground that it was thought to cause leprosy among other things), and this law remained on the books in Parmentier's time.
 
From his return to Paris in 1763 he pursued his pioneering studies in nutritional chemistry. His prison experience came to mind in 1772 when he proposed (in a contest sponsored by the Academy of Besançon) use of the potato as a source of nourishment for dysenteric patients. He won the prize on behalf of the potato in 1773.
 
Thanks largely to Parmentier's efforts, the Paris Faculty of Medicine declared potatoes edible in 1772. Still, resistance continued, and Parmentier was prevented from using his test garden at the Invalides hospital, where he was pharmacist, by the religious community that owned the land, whose complaints resulted in the suppression of Parmentier's post at the Invalides.
 
Parmentier therefore began a series of publicity stunts for which he remains notable today, hosting dinners at which potato dishes featured prominently and guests included luminaries such as Benjamin Franklin and Antoine Lavoisier, giving bouquets of potato blossoms to the King and Queen, and surrounding his potato patch at Sablons with armed guards to suggest valuable goods — then instructed them to accept any and all bribes from civilians and withdrawing them at night so the greedy crowd could "steal" the potatoes. (These 54 arpents of impoverished ground near Neuilly, west of Paris, had been allotted him by order of Louis XVI in 1787.)
 
The first step in the acceptance of the potato in French society was a year of bad harvests, 1785, when the scorned potatoes staved off famine in the north of France. The final step may have been the siege of the first Paris Commune in 1795, during which potatoes were grown on a large scale, even in the Tuileries Gardens, to reduce the famine caused by the siege.
 
Here's the recipe, from Time/Life's Foods of the World - The Cooking of Provencial France - 1968:
 
Potage Parmentier; Vichyssoise
Leek or Onion and Potato Soup

To Serve 6 to 8

4 cups Peeled and coarsly-chopped potatoes
3 cups thinly-sliced leek (white part plus 2 inches of green), or substitute 3 cups thinly sliced onion
2 quarts chicken stock, fresh or canned, or water or a combination of chicken stock and water
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 Tablespoons finely-cut fresh chives or finele-chopped fresh parsley

In a heavy 6-quart saucepan or soup kettle, simmer the potatoes, leeks, chicken stock and salt partially covered for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Force the soup through a food mill or sieve into a mixing bowl and then pour back into the pan. Season the soup with salt and a few grindings of black pepper, and stir in the cream. Before serving, retrun the soup to low heat and bring it to a simmer. Ladle the soup into a tureen or individual soup bowls. Serve garnished with fresh chives or finely-chopped parsley.

Vichyssoise: When Louis Diat was chef at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York City half a century ago, he devised vichyssoise - a vold version of potage Parmentier. To make it, force the soup through a foodmill or sieve, then through a fine sieve back into the pan. Season and stir in 1&1/2 cups heavy cream (do not use a blender; the mixture will be too smooth). Chill the soup until it is very cold. Serve it garnished with finely-cut fresh chives.

----------------------------
 
here are the preparation pix for this wonderful soup, which i think nearly anyone would greatly enjoy. i was not completely happy with the photography, but i hope it will be adequate.
 
a shot of the goods shows just how easy it is to make a simple yet delicious and elegant potage that people wil pay a lot of money for in some of the finest restaurants:
 
 
note the homemade chicken stock in the mason jars. this was the result of long, slow simmering with chicken skeletons and scraps of onions, garlic, celery, carrots and other assorted aromatics. this rich, thick stock was truly a savory addition to the soup; however it had one flaw that was quite apparent in the final product - it's dark colour kept the soup from being a creamy, silky white as in the picture (middle) from the book directly above the leeks.
 
until i made this soup, i had never worked with leeks before:
 
 
having picked up a bundle of three earlier that day, i wanted to use them to their best advantage and  prepare something that would truly showcase this unique vegetable, which seems to me to combine a savory celery aroma with a mild onion taste. this soup worked very well as the first course of a supper  featuring another leek-based dish, swedish färsrullader.
 
to begin this soup, i put the chicken stock in a pot,
 
 
and cut the potatoes, chopped the chives (grown in my herb garden), measured out the cream etc.:
 
 
i then put the potatoes, leeks salt and stock on the stove:
 
 
when it reached a boil, i reduced to low and slowly simmered for about 45 minutes until the potatoes were tender:
 
 
from there, it was a simple matter to zip the soup with a wand blender,
 
 
add just a pinch of salt, the pepper and the cream:
 
 
and zip the soup some more:
 
 
by now, it had attained a very silky-smooth texture:
 
 
the only problem i saw was the colour, which should have been nearly pure white, but i wasn't going to let that spoil a wonderful experience!
 
thie soup was served simply, with a garnishing of chives and some buttered, multi-grain bread:
 
 
here's a closer shot:
 
 
the taste was just about perfect - i can't imagine a simpler soup with the same elegant qualities. colour aside, i would say that it is one of the best soups i have ever made. the smooth, creamy texture is a perfect compliment to the savory taste of the leeks and the experience was uniquely french. the only other thing that would have made it better would have been if the bread were truly hot and fresh, with sweet cream butter melting into the pores, but it had been a busy day and i can't do it all....Wink
 
reception to this dish was mixed. three of the kids were impressed, as was a neighbour kid who had lingered around to try it. one of the boys sided with his mom and said that it seemed like a bowl of nothing, which i can understand to some extent since the soup is very light once it is well-blended and there are no chunks of anything for the teeth to grab onto. also, the beautiful mrs. tas wasn't impressed with the fresh chives, saying something about a bunch of grass in her bowl. this is definitely a soup that i would make again, but i would probably use a lighter, commercial stock, or perhaps even chicken broth, rather than dark, home-made stock, which tastes great but throws the colour off on the final product.
 
keep in mind that had we chilled this soup, it would have been a real fancy-schmancy dish called vichyssoise. this might be interesting to try sometime, along with another cold soup such as spanish gazpacho, but for now, especially this time of year, i am very satisfied with hot, rich soups that take the chill off the day!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 November 2010 at 10:25
Hey very nicely done and I loved the color from the homemade stock. I've thought that the  pasle white of the standard soup looks unappetizing, but yours really looked TASTY. That's the way to go. Your chives from the garden did the crowning tough, I'm sure. Nothing better than fresh herbs one grows at home to really make the dish stand out and the chef feel good about it. Yep, this soup is thin, but it is a great first course to something heartier, or a perfect pointed lesson to the kids that there are many different meals in the world and not all inlude chewy stuff. A mug of this after coming in from the freezing blowing cold might encourage them to appreciate it more! Great job, Tas~ you did good Clap These are the types of things perfect to make in winter and really make the season great!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 August 2011 at 16:54
Awesome looking soup Ron....great job my friend!Thumbs Up
Go ahead...play with your food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChrisFlanders Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2012 at 06:19

Absolutely right, Ron, a Vichyssoise is a fantastic soup, served either hot or icecold.

I have no dought you made an excellent chickenstock and I would pay good money for stocks like that, but these kind of soups are made with white stocks. The difference is that nor the bones nor the aromats to be used to make the stock are browned. Simply add cold water to bones and aromats and let simmer.

Also, mostly only the white(r) part of the leeks are used in this soup, the green part can be used to make the stock. As you may guess, it has to do with keeping the color as white as possible, even if your colored soup tastes better. You know how those french are.

Making the best flavored soups; as a general rule for most soups that are going to be mixed, start with sweating the chosen "main" vegetable -which are leeks in this case- in butter or oil. Do NOT let them color at all. Optional, but very wanted, are onion and white celery to be added. All those components together make around 60-80% of the "solids". Add around 20-40% raw potato cut in chunks. The potatoes are used to bind the soup, much less as a flavor component. Sweat all this for at least 10 minutes on very low fire. Your soups will improve spectacularly!! Sweating the veggies first extracts all the flavors. Then add the stock and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, which is the time needed to cook the potatoes until tender.

So, for example the Vichyssoise; start to sweat the leeks in a little butter or oil for at least 10 minutes; this will seriously enhance the leek taste in your soup. Add the raw potato chunks halfway that cooking time. Also, add just a little salt and pepper in this stage!

After that, add the stock and let simmer for around 20 minutes, which is always the cooking time needed for the potatoes to soften. Mix, add cream away from the heat, and taste for seasoning. When served cold; you need to taste again when it's cooled as a cold soup tastes much more bland than when it's heated.

You can make the same thing with cauliflower, also to be served hot or cold. Exactly the same procedure, but just before you start to sweat the cauliflower, add a tiny 1/2 teaspoon of Madras curry powder to the butter or oil and let it flavor the grease for a moment. This time use also a white onion chopped and add that first to the butter or oil to sweat, then the cauliflower, then a few raw potatoes, then the stock. Mix after 20 minutes and add cream away from the fire.

BTW; never boil a soup when cream is added; it will split!

I posted a hot cauliflower soup that certainly can be served cold, here somewhere; http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/inspired-soups-or-who-says-soup-is-boring_topic1982.html

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2012 at 08:53
good morning, chris, and thanks for the outstanding tips on this soup. i enjoyed it quite a bit, and would like to "tweak" it a bit closer to "perfection;" simple adjustments for improving the colour etc. such as described in your post will certainly help with tha goal!
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2012 at 09:18
Looks wonderful Ron! I might give that a go if I can find some leeks around here!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 January 2013 at 03:49
This soup is found throughout the western frontier of Switzerland, and through numerous parts of France. It is a simple leek, potato, tarragon herb, chives, sweet green peas, cream or milk and vegetable broth soup with many variations.
 
 
Photo Courtesy: www.mycarolinakitchen.com
 
  
Here is a wintery warmer up ...
 
RECIPE
 
1/2 STICK BUTTER
2 LARGE WHITE AND PALE GREEN LEEKS THINLY SLICED - 3 CUPS
1 LARGE POTATO PEELED AND THINLY SLICED
15 OUNCES OF HOME MADE VEGETABLE STOCK
1 CUP FRESH SWEET PEAS OR FROZEN & THAWED OVERNIGHT
1/2 TSP. DRIED TARRAGON
3/4 CUPS CREAM OR MILK
GROUND WHITE PEPPER CORNS
2 1/2 INCH THICK DICED CUBES OF FRENCH STYLE BAGUETTE SLICED INTO CUBES (1 CUP)
2 TBLSPS. CHOPPED FRESH CHIVES OR SCALLION OR DRIED CHIVES
 
1) In Dutch Oven or Stock Pot of choice:  sauté in 1 tblsp. butter, the leeks finely sliced and sauté until tender, stirring occasionally
2) add the potato and the stock and bring to boil
3) reduce heat and cover and simmer 10 mins.
4) add the sweet peas and tarragon and cook until the potatoes are tender, 5 or 6 mins.
5) pureé the soup in a blender in batches and return the soup into the pot
6) add the cream or the milk and bring to simmer
7) season soup to taste with salt and white peppercorns freshly ground
8) melt the remaining 1 tblsp. of butter in a small sauté pan over a medium heat
9) add the bread cubes and sauté until lightly toasted - 2 minutes
10) ladle soup in  bowls and top with the croutóns and serve
11) sprinkle the chives or scallion for garnish
 
ENJOY,
Margaux.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 January 2013 at 07:20
Elegant and warming at the same time. What could be better when the arctic winds blow? 
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 January 2013 at 11:00
Brook.

Truly good for bleak, cold, grey, wet days ...

This is quite lovely ...


Tas,

Fabulous and fascinating history and pictorial.

Thanks so much for posting ... The 2 main differences in our recipes are:

1) I use vegetable stock broth that is very clear in color tone
2) I prefer cremè fraîche to heavy cream

The color should be white with just a very very slight hint of an icy pale pale lettuce tone ... I use vegetable stock broth and you employ chicken stock broth --- this would change color !

My version produces a white cream soup with just a very slight pale pale icy hint of lettuce color ...

Margaux with Kindest Regards.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2018 at 10:39
Since we've been seeing so many potato recipes lately, I figured we could bring this one up in case anyone is looking for a classic potato-and-leek treat ~
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