Vichyssoise is the fancy-pants garden party name for leek and potato soup pureed and served cold. Being a cold and wet night, I left some chunks and served it hot. Between the shorter days and dark, stormy weather, by 6:15 it already seemed like time to have a bath and crawl into bed.
There are few foods as consoling as soup and potatoes, particularly when they are sippable from a mug (in a chair beside the tub as W has his bubble bath) as hot as I can stand it, so that it almost burns my throat as it goes down and doesn’t cool until it almost reaches my toes.
I also chose this soup because today is the day my parents gave up ownership of their lovely old house by the river, (to new owners with plans to mow it down), and then my mom hopped on a plane to Tofino, leaving my dad in their new (temporary) place surrounded by boxes. And my dad has always loved vichyssoise; he requests it for every birthday dinner.
Oh yes – I had a revelation while making this. I’ve made it for years (as I mentioned, it’s my dad’s favourite), and have always peeled the potatoes, because that’s what the recipe told me to do. Tonight, I was not in the mood for peeling potatoes. Nor was Mike. And it occurred to me that my small, thin-skinned potatoes didn’t need peeling. I wouldn’t try leaving thick-skinned russets intact, but the potatoes pureed just fine with their skins. Which is great, because much of the fiber and nutrients in a potato are in or just underneath the skin. Huzzah.
Leek and Potato Soup (Vichyssoise)
2 medium leeks
1 Tbsp. butter or canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb. potatoes (russet, Yukon Gold and red potatoes all work well), peeled (or not) and chopped
3 cups chicken, onion or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup milk, half and half, or cream
Cut the leeks in half lengthwise before you wash them – sand and grit tends to work their way in between the layers so you have to be very thorough. Thinly slice the white and pale green parts crosswise and throw out the green tops.
Set a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the butter or oil. Sauté the leeks, onion, and garlic for 8-10 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the potatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
Purée the soup in a blender or food processor, or use a hand-held immersion blender right in the pot. If you’ve used the blender, return the soup to the pot, set it over medium heat, and stir in the milk or cream. Heat it through without bringing it to a boil.
Serve hot, at room temperature, or put it in the fridge and serve it chilled.
(I imagine this could easily be done in a slow cooker too – just throw it all in and walk away. Then puree with an immersion blender right in the pot.)