Antoine-Augustin Parmentier popularised the
potato as a human food source in 18th-century France. Apocryphally a
version of this hearty soup was first distributed from soup kitchens
during times of famine in northern France.
You will need a hand-blender for this soup or a sieve and a lot of elbow grease! Alternatively you can leave the soup whole and call it Potage Parisien.
3 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
5 medium untrimmed leeks
1kg white ware potatoes - e.g. Kestrel or Marfona - peeled, diced and reserved under water
2 heads broccoli
4 cloves garlic, minced
250g strong blue cheese such as stilton, in 1cm cubes
2 tablespoons chives or parsley, finely chopped - optional
Black pepper to taste
Warm crusty bread to serve
Remove the roots and any excessively damaged green leaves from the leeks, split lengthways and slice into 1cm sections. Wash thoroughly and set aside.
Trim any dirty bits from the broccoli heads and roughly chop them. Place in a steamer or saucepan of cold water.
Gently melt the butter in a large stockpot and sweat the onions until they soften. Add the garlic and continue cooking for a minute or two.
Drain the potatoes and add them to the pan. Mix gently to coat them with butter and fry for a minute or two.
Add the leeks, mix, cover the pan and sweat for about four minutes until the leeks start to soften and pack down.
Add the salt and sufficient water to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for twenty minutes until the potatoes are soft.
Meanwhile steam the broccoli until just tender but still retaining a fresh green colour.
Turn off the heat and mix in the broccoli and cheese pieces, stirring vigorously until the latter melts.
Either blend the soup to a thick paste-like consistency (no need to get it perfectly smooth) or work through a sieve. If necessary adjust the consistency with a little water or milk. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the chives or parsley if used.