Chef Ludo Lefebvre is back with a new season of Ludo à la Maison, his cooking series shared exclusively with Food & Wine. The latest episode has balloons, bugs and a truly inspirational potato soup. Says Ludo, “I wish sometimes I could just open a potato restaurant. Ball, stew, mash, fry, bake. Everything is good with potato.”
Ludo is known as the brain behind LA eateries Trois Mec and Petit Trois, and as a pioneer in the now ubiquitous pop-up dinner scene. In this video, he shows us how to make potato soup with leeks: potage parmentier, in his native French (comparable to a vichyssoise, but served hot).
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Why this dish? Ludo admits that his favorite thing to eat is mashed potatoes. Parmentier, he says, is like “eating a good mashed potato, with a straw. Almost like a milkshake...you know, a hot milkshake.” He also says that he made this dish the day he passed his final test at culinary school. It must have been a very good milkshake.
He begins by adding butter, which forms the basis of many French dishes. “You can basically add whatever flavors you want” to a base of butter, says Ludo, so “you can be really playful with that.” Following a brief interruption from his balloon-toting children, he adds onions and the whites of leeks. And garlic—because “potato and garlic makes sense together.” Finally, peeled, diced kennebec potatoes and chicken stock.
The boiled soup is blended and strained, at which point Ludo augments the flavor with white pepper, white wine vinegar reduction and a “little” bit of heavy cream. If his 1/2 cup doesn’t seem little to you, Ludo wants you to know something about French cooking: “I see all of you watching the video and saying, ‘[Gasp!] This is a lot! That’s not a little bit!’ It’s a little bit, guys, okay?”
Finish with some watercress, and you’ve got a simple, silky potato soup that will please everyone. “Everything you like. Potato, garlic, cream, butter. How can you go wrong with that?”