Potage Bonne Femme

Serves 6-8
1 pound potatoes,diced (about 4 medium)
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 large leeks sliced up to the green
2 1/2 TBS butter
1  quart of chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1  generous sprig of thyme (if you don't have fresh, use about a tsp. of dried thyme leaves)
1 tsp dried marjoram
2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper (or about 20 grinds)
1/2 - cup of half and half (Use evaporated skimmed milk if you are looking to lower the fat)
1.  Melt butter in a soup pot, add leeks and carrots, letting them get hot and thoroughly saturated with butter (about 10 minutes)
2.  Add potatoes, water (or broth) salt, pepper, sugar, and spices.
3.  Cook steadily but not at a gallop (in other words, simmer) until vegetables are tender (about 30 minutes)
4.  Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig.  Use a hand blender, and blend to desired consistency.  If you don't have a hand blender, you can pour the soup in your regular blender and blend til' combined.
5.  Taste for seasoning, and just before serving, add a bit of light cream or half and half

Now...for the variations:

 1.  For VichyssoiseOmit the spices and the carrots; serve cold, garnish with some chopped chives.

 2.  For Potato and Leek soup:  Omit the carrots.