In this busy, can-opener world, a homemade soup often seems like a new taste sensation. The old French standby, leek and potato soup, tastes so good you cannot believe it is nothing but vegetables, water and salt simmered together. It is also versatile: add watercress and you have a potage au cresson, or chill it, lace it with cream and you have vichyssoise. Another delicious soup is cream of watercress with its final enrichment of egg yolks. Hot or cold, most French soups are very easy, and can be made ready hours before serving time.

Preliminary Cooking


  • A 3- to 4-quart saucepan or pressure cooker
  • 3 to 4 cups peeled potatoes sliced or diced
  • 3 cups thinly sliced leeks or yellow onions
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon salt


  1. Either simmer the vegetables, water, and salt together, partially covered, for 40 to 50 minutes until vegetables are tender; or cook under 15 pounds pressure for 5 minutes, release pressure, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes to develop the flavor.
  2. Mash the vegetables in the soup with a fork, or pass the soup through a food mill. Correct seasoning. Set aside uncovered until just before serving, then reheat to the simmer.

Final Enrichment


  • 1/3 cup heavy cream or 2 to 3 tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons minced parsley or chives


Remove from heat just before serving, and stir in the cream or butter spoonfuls. Pour into a teen or soup cups and decorate with herbs.

Makes about 2 quarts, serving 6 to 8


In 1961, as a recent graduate of the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, Julia Child co-authored the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking and launched her career of educating Americans in delicious ways with food. In 1963 she began her own cooking show The French Chef, produced at WGBH. This recipe was published in The French Chef Cookbook*.

Watch these newly digitized episodes from the first year of The French Chef (1963) and learn more about Julia Child's life and career here.

*THE FRENCH CHEF COOKBOOK by Julia Child, copyright © 1968 by Julia Child. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. For online information about other Random House, Inc. books and authors, see the Internet Web Site at