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Help with Julia Child's potato and onion soup

I was a little embarassed at first to ask about this, since Julia herself wrote this soup 'is simplicity in itself' to make. I'm referring to the potato and onion soup, in Chapter 1 of Child's 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking'. My problem is this:

When I made the soup, it tasted and smelled not wonderfully aromatic but raw onion-y and unappealing. My contention is that my mistake was I had to cook the soup for much longer to develop more flavors, hence the raw taste. But the method of simply boiling the vegetables without saueteing first makes me suspicious. I've never previously made a soup without a base built on sauteing some vegetables first. Nevertheless, I'd like to follow the recipe again first, without adding broth or any other additions. Thanks for any help!! : )

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  1. Is this the very first recipe - "Potage Parmentier"? I'm not sure if you are saying that you made the soup per the recipe, or if you varied it? I'd trust her and try it again her way if you didn't. Another thought - were you definitely using yellow onions? I've not made this recipe myself though ....

    4 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      Yes, that is indeed the recipe I was referring to. Sorry for the confusion. I did follow the recipe exactly, and did use yellow onions. Look you mention later, I used water instead of stock since that's what the recipe calls for.

      1. re: roasted138

        Hmm - no problem - I will just have to try it myself and report back!

        1. re: MMRuth

          I bought the ingredients this afternoon - will give it a try this weekend and post back.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Just had it as part of a light dinner - thought it was delicious. I made about 2/3 of the recipe in terms of quantity. I used yellow onions, yukon gold potatoes. I put it through my food mill, but thought it still pretty coarse, and the vegetables too separated from the liquid, so I got out my immersion blender and whizzed it about a bit. Made it during the day, heated up for dinner, stirred in some half and half off heat, and added a liberal sprinkling of chopped chives. My husband, who tends not to go for subtle flavors, loved it.

            So - maybe try making it again.

    2. I have not seen this recipe, but possible solutions could be to cut the onions very small so they cook faster, or to cook them first and add your cut up potatoes later. This sounds like a version of Vichyssoise made with leeks and potatoes, where they are just boiled but not sauteed first. The quality of your stock also makes a big difference to the taste.

      4 Replies
      1. re: atagirl

        Actually - the recipe doesn't call for stock - just water. The onions are sliced, and then you process the cooked onions and potatoes in a food mill (happen to have the book open b/c I'm roasting a chicken from it).

        1. re: MMRuth

          Thanks so much for all your help everyone! I'm gonna to make it again next weekend. The same thing happened to me when I put it through a food mill, but I also used the smallest holes so I was considering trying again on the largest holes, but I think I might try whizzing it too. Also, good idea on the yukon's. I used russets last time I think, so the yukons sound like they'd add some good taste. One quick question, did you simmer it longer than the recipe calls for?

          1. re: roasted138

            I used the largest holes in my foodmill (couldn't find the others) and it was too coarse and so it was easier just to give it a quick whiz.

            I brought it to a boil and then simmered - about 45-50 minutes in total.

            I do think the yukons probably helped the flavor. I also think I'd like it better w/ some leeks, so you might want to try half onions/half leeks this time.

            I stirred in some half and half and a liberal sprinkling of chopped chives just before serving (chives in the soup bowls).

            1. re: MMRuth

              Thanks MMRuth, I'm excited to try it again. I very much agree with the leeks idea, the best type of soup I ever made like this was a combination of leek, potatoes, and a little onion from a Wolfgang Puck recipe. Chives sound fantastic, but they always sound fantastic to me, especially garlic chives, it reminds me of dad's garden as a kid!

      2. Try using sweet yellow onions instead of storage onions. Kula, Walla Walla, Texas 1015, or Vidalia are all good bets.

        1. I admit, I don't make Julia's recipe, but I do make Potage Parmentier quite often using leeks following this recipe: http://www.soupsong.com/rpotato3.html