Years ago, as a first-time waitress at a now-closed French/Creole restaurant in New Orleans, I learned how to make cappuccino, garnish with parsley (which I detest), and discovered what has
become my favorite soup. I was so broke in those early days, I absolutely lived off my shift meal, which always started with the largest bowl of Vichysoisse I could get and lots of French baguette. This soup was a sublime revelation. A few simple ingredients prepared easily meld into a decadent elixir. I know I'm waxing romantic, but trust me, this is more than soup.
With autumn and cool weather on the way, here's one last cold potage to say Au Revoir to summer!
Note - A lot of well-meaning people try to over-pronounce the name and sound smart by leaving off the S sound at the end of the name, like many French words. However, there are two SS's so you pronounce the S like a soft Z. VI-SHE SWAZ
Behold, the fragrant leek!
Vichysoisse a la Boheme
This is a rich soup, but I highly recommend you making it this way first, to taste its subtle
luxuriousness, before you change it and make it your own. As with everything, eat it in
moderation, with an otherwise light meal, and enjoy life!
Clean and chop 4 leeks (mostly white part, a little green is ok). Leeks are notoriously
gritty and it's really important to clean them thoroughly. Wash them first, then remove
the green and roots and make a cut through the leek, leaving about 1/2 inch at the end.
Turn it 90 degrees and make another cut through, fanning it out and rinsing it again
under running water, then cut 1/2 inch pieces and put them into a bowl of water.
Clean 4 to 5 potatoes and cut them into 1/4 inch slices. I prefer Yukon Golds. In the
original recipe, you would be instructed to peel the potatoes, but their thin peels don't
really "pollute" the smoothness of the soup and it's healthier. I put them in a bowl of
water too, to discourage oxidation.
Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large pot over high heat and add the drained leeks just as the
butter melts, then turn the heat down a bit, like medium/high. You don't want the leeks
to brown, but to "sweat" and soften. Stir occasionally and gently until they're soft and
translucent, about 10 mins.
Add in the drained potatoes and 3 cups of chicken stock (or veggie stock) to cover them.
If they're not completely covered, add more stock until they are. Cover with lid and turn
down the heat to a low simmer for 30 mins. When the potatoes are cooked through, turn
off and remove the pot from the heat and wait for it to cool. When cooled, take the
mixture in a few ladle-full batches and puree thoroughly in a blender or food processor,
adding in 1 cup of milk to one of the batches.Put the entire puree in a large bowl, then
blend in 1 1/2 cups of cream, 1 1/2 tsp sea salt and 1 tsp white pepper (or to taste).
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cold. The cold really makes
a difference and I suggest making this a day in advance,to give the flavors a chance to
meld into perfection. Serves 4 generously. Don't forget the baguette to go with!!!
A good movie to watch, while sinking your teeth into this silky wonderful,
is Interview With A Vampire. It's a delicious French/Creole story that was filming
in New Orleans when I lived there. Later I was lucky enough to get invited to
Anne Rice's Halloween Party at her ex-convent haunted mansion, when she was
still the queen of the goths.
Until next time... Miss Absinthe