I’m Not Julie or Julia, but I Still Like Potatoes

The first recipe Julie Powell made from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking before writing that blog-then-book-now-movie “Julie and Julia” was potage parmentier – potato and leek soup.

In an attempt to convince Mr. Right that reading this book wasn’t a complete waste of my time, I decided to prepare the recipe that inspired a blog, book, and mediocre romantic comedy.

Two problems:
First, Mr. Right isn’t the biggest fan of leeks. 
This point was driven home by the leeks at the market looking anemic and sad. Frustrated enough to seek out an extra bottle of wine to drink while cooking, I returned to the produce section and grabbed a ton of green onions.

Second, Awesome Former Roommate is….vegan. Thankfully this is primarily for health reasons, so I don’t feel like I’m killing his soul when I bring home thick-cut bacon and goat cheese logs.

Still, why is this a problem? Julia Child’s recipe for potato soup only calls for three ingredients besides water and salt: potatoes, leeks, and….butter.

I didn’t think this one through all the way. Clearly. Cut to me staring glassy-eyed at shelves of butter and butter-substitutes, mindlessly chewing on my cell phone case and hoping what I put together won’t be disgusting. My eye falls on a tub of something called “Smart Balance Buttery Spread: Made with Olive Oil. 100% Vegan.”

I know somewhere my parents, Anthony Bourdain, Paula Deen, and every other chef in existence is shuddering. I know guys…..I’ve failed you. I promise I use real unsalted butter, like a good girl. The recipe in my head had already been screwed up, so I grabbed a box of vegetable stock and hoped the soup would taste like something besides boiled potatoes. (I can feel all of you shuddering. My head is hanging in shame as I write this.)

Less than an hour later, there was much rejoicing in the kingdom, and Smart Balance has become a fridge staple ever since. Huh.

Not Julia Child’s Potato Soup


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or Smart Balance Olive Oil Spread
  • 3 to 6 bunches green onions – sliced thin, tips cut off, both white and green parts
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 6 cups (about 1 box) vegetable stock
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes – peeled and sliced as thin as possible
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put a large pot over low heat and melt the butter. Add the green onions and cook until tender (make sure to stir them around so they don’t burn) – 3 ish minutes – then add the garlic and stir up until things start smelling divine (30 seconds at most).

Pour in the chicken stock and drop the potatoes in the pool. Cover and simmer until the potatoes pierce extremely easily with a fork.

Remove pot from heat and puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Pour back into the pot once smooth and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Once it’s ladled out you can garnish it with fresh herbs or (if you’re not vegan) sour cream or cheese.

Mr. Right insisted on garnishing mine with sour cream, but I promise this tastes perfectly lovely plain. As you can see, we like cheese. For once, he consumed more cheese than I did.

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