Imagine a hot and humid summer day. The evening rolls around with the sun setting, the temperature begins to drop and the humidity has dissipated. And you’re hungry.
One of my most favorite meals on a summer evening is a bowl of cool Vichysoisse, a small wedge of lettuce topped with a chunky mango yogurt salad dressing, and then munching on Roasted Pecorino Romano Cheese Chicken Drumsticks. The grand final to this is to sip on a glass of chilled Limoncello liqueur while having a friendly tête-à-tête.
In another life, I think I would have loved to have been a food historian. It’s always a fascinating subject. Leek and potato soup is most often called Vichyssoise in the U.S. In France, however, it is most often called Potage Parmentier or Potage a la Parmentier, meaning preparation of a very thick soup. Contrary to the many deliciously gourmet dishes often displayed in the U.S., what I do know from a French friend of mine and my visits to France is that a typical meal in a French home includes simple dishes of meat and potatoes. My version of Potage a la Parmentier is indeed thick.
Pardon me, I just had to share a picture from my last visit to France. Here, we were learning to make Mousse Au Chocolat following a recipe in French. I was there to brush up on my conversation French. As in every activity, we learn “one must use it or lose it.” Alas, while my now conversational French is barely above “Bonjeur, Je m'appelle Shirley,” I do continue to have fond memories of visiting France.
Of course, Vichysoisse may be enjoyed while hot. Hot or cold, it is most enjoyable when served with a swirling of a little light cream and sprinkles of chives.
For a salad, cut wedges of lettuces topped with a chunky mango yogurt salad dressing. (I’ll soon be sharing this recipe.)
The Recipe for Vichysoisse
Serves 6 (Yields 10 cups)
Prep Time: 20 minutes, Cook time: 0:40, Total time: 1:00, Cooling activating time: 1-2 hours
2 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil, preferably 100% not virgin olive oil
6 ounces white onions (about 1/2 of a medium size white onion), chopped
3-4 medium Yukon potatoes, scrubbed and cut into large pieces with skin on
5-1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup light cream plus about 1 teaspoon for each serving
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 to 1 teaspoon peppercorn, crushed
Snipped chives for garnish (optional)
In a 5-quart dutch oven pot, melt butter and oil over medium-high heat. Sautee onions for about one minute. Push them to the side of the pot. Stir in leeks and cook for about 1 minute. Bring back onions into the mix, stir and then add potatoes, stock, and light cream. Stir in thyme. Bring soup to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Cover the pot with a lid and continue to cook for 30 minutes.
Remove pot from the heating element and allow soup to cool for about 20-30 minutes. Pour about a third of the ingredients into a blender and blend on the setting to liquefy soup for about 3-5 minutes. Strain the portion into a large bowl or wide-mouth 24-cup pitcher. Continue the blender and straining of the reaming soup in 1/3 portions. Note that the texture of the strained soup will be very thick and not with chunky pieces.
Cool the soup in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Serving the cold soup in a bowl or cup, swirl in a little more light cream and garnish with chives.
When serving cold, because I live in an apartment with not the best refrigerator, I cool the soup overnight. I Find that I then must vigorously re-stir the soup before serving. Another option would be to re-stir in a blender.
Cutting leeks and potatoes: