If you followed your childhood dreams, would it lead to ultimate happiness?
When I was a kid, I wasn’t into cartoons. I watched Jacques Pépin with my grandmother who was an incredible cook. She was French- he was French- it all made sense. Food fascinated me and playtime revolved around exploring my curiosity. I made up recipes, hosted imaginary cooking shows, and mastered that Easy Bake Oven like nobody’s business.
Then school happened.
Each year it got more demanding and playtime inevitably dwindled. My creative path fulfilled itself in other directions and food took the back burner. At age 17, I chose to leave high school. I didn’t dropout- I was ready to move on in search of something more (whatever that was). I graduated early and moved 2,000 miles across the country to begin college in the desert. Arizona would be my new home for the next 4 years. I worked hard, studied abroad, and got to see the world. But eventually, time ran out. What was my plan? What was I going to be? I had no answers for anyone.
I felt like a fraud.
Back home, I settled into ‘real’ life and got a job. And hated it.
What did it all mean?!
True to form (and years later), I took a leap of faith: culinary school.
It was time to get back to my roots and be with my people.
The significance of this recipe is twofold:
Potato leek soup was one of the very first things I learned to make at school. Yukon golds are sliced and simmered with leeks and pureed until smooth. Garnished with cracked black pepper and celery leaves, it’s a simple soup with delicate flavor.
Plus, after whining about my potato surplus, I figured a soup would be better than a retaining wall ;)
But more importantly, something very serendipitous happened as a result of my decision.
While prepping ingredients at school one day, I heard a familiar voice. A familiar voice with an accent. It sounded just like Jacques Pépin... could it be? Jacques Pépin was the dean of my school. Never in my wildest dreams did I think he would make the rounds in class. But he did! He came right over to my station, looked at me straight in the face and told me I had bad posture (apparently, I like to shift my weight to one side when I stand- no good).
That’s all I needed to hear.
It brought me right back to my grandmother’s floor where we sat together and watched Jacques on TV. I couldn’t believe it. Who knew that all these childhood memories would hold the answer? Culinary school was exactly where I needed to be even though my plan was not concrete- I’m still figuring it out. But there was movement in the right direction.
Life works in mysterious ways, doesn’t it?
- To clean the leeks, slice them into rounds and soak in a big bowl of water. All of the dirt will sink to the bottom.
- Do not over blend the soup. Potatoes have a tendency to take on a gummy texture when over processed. Blend gently, in batches.
creamy potato leek soup
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 50 mins
- Yield: 8
- 2 lbs. yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 c. chopped leeks, white + light green part only
- 1 small celery stalk
- 1 clove of garlic, sliced
- 1 quart of chicken stock
- 1 c. milk
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- salt + pepper
- celery leaves
- In a large heavy bottom pot, warm the olive oil over moderate heat.
- Saute the leeks, celery, and garlic until soft, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the sliced potatoes and enough stock to cover all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the potatoes are tender and cooked through, about 20-30 minutes.
- Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender with the lid vented. Add more stock or water if it’s too thick. Process gently; over blending will create a gummy texture. Alternatively, use a hand held immersion blender.
- Return the soup to the pot and add the milk.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve warm and garnish with celery leaves.
Looks like a great potato leek soup.
I like a little bit of tang in mine. Is it possible to substitute buttermilk for the milk in this recipe?
If so, would I need to change anything else during the process?
Looks simply wonderful. Looking forward to trying this one soon. I also want to say I enjoy your writing as well. I wish you great success in your work, your passion in the culinary arts.
Welcome Toni! Thank you so much for your well wishes. It made my morning! Have a great weekend :)
You are a doll, thank you Maria. And, best of all I get to interact with people like you everyday ;) xx
Maria | Pink Patisserie says
I’m so glad you followed your passion and that it lead you right to this very place! How fortunate are we that we get to enjoy your food, recipes and photos! Beautiful recipe!
Lindsey | Mabel & the Wooden Spoon says
There are few things that I love more than hearing the story behind a dish. Bad posture or not, you’re rocking the culinary genius. This soup looks so perfectly balanced — everything a potato leek soup should be!
Welcome Lindsey! You are so sweet, thank you. There’s such a natural simplicity to soups like this which is something I love. Plus, leeks happen to be one of my favorite ingredients in the world so I’m definitely a little partial. Down home comfort food! :)
Nancy O'Connor says
I like my soup a little chunky so I use a potato masher instead of a blender. You don’t have worry about cooling the soup either.
Welcome Nancy! That’s actually a great tip- thank you for sharing. I’ve never tried using a potato masher for this but I can see how effective it would be for a nice, chunky texture. Brilliant!
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
I love this story about following your passion! And your soup looks so cozy, just what I need on a chilly fall day!
Hello darling :) It certainly wasn’t easy and I’m still figuring it all out, but I’m glad I stuck with it. My head would explode if I couldn’t create. Thank you for the kind words! xx
This soup will be perfect on a cool, damp day!
Absolutely! Perfect for Lake Placid weather. I hear tomato soup with bacon was good too ;)
Pamela Green says
I used to watch Jaques on PBS too! And that chef guy with that poofy grey hair…who was that?! This soup looks so comforting especially as I watch snowflakes coming down outside!
Jeff Smith! Was that his name? He was nuts, always looking frazzled and confused with his yellow note paper all over the place. Even as I kid I knew he was… how should we say… eccentric? I love that you watched those shows too. And I can’t believe that it’s snowing by you already! Fall blew in over here, but got confused and it’s now 75 degrees again. Not complaining :)
Em | the pig & quill says
I swear I woke up craving this soup and was only too pleased by the serendipity that was me finding this post in my Feedly. Meant to be? I think so. :) And I think Jaques Pepin commenting on my horrid posture is perhaps the ONLY thing that would (finally!) get me to stand up straight — what a fun anecdote!
Hi Em! Ahhh… definitely meant to be! I love when stuff like this happens. As you can see, I’m a total ‘sign’ person. And I don’t think my posture got any better. I will always look like a flamingo in the kitchen ;)
Christine // my natural kitchen says
I love this story, so happy to hear you’ve found your path! It’s funny how things just end up working out the way they’re supposed to. Potato leek is one of my favourite soups too, always such a comfort!
Christine, I can’t even begin to describe that happiness and relief it was for me to let go and take the leap! The unknown is certainly scary and things can change in an instant, but I’m certainly enjoying this journey that I’m on wherever it takes me. Thanks for stopping by to say hello, and your site is beautiful by the way! ;)
I love this soup. Thanks so much.
You’re welcome Liz! It’s one of my favorite too!
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says
This soup looks lovely. Potato leek is one of my favorite flavours!
Welcome Katrina! Thank you! Me too- this recipe is very simple, yet flavorful. I like to make extra to freeze for a quick meal any night of the week.