Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vichyssoise

I love that Guestblogger: The Chef decided to whip this up for us on a whim the other day, because I love it so. Leeks are one of my favorite vegetables and a pleasure to grow in our garden. This deceptively simple soup is sophisticated, lovely and a springtime favorite in our household. --A Crafty Lass

Vichyssoise (vihsh-ee-SWAHZ) is the perfect soup for the particular type of Spring we’re having here in the Midwest, where we are alternately quenching our gardens as an antidote to record-breaking heat or shrouding our tender plants with bed sheets overnight for fear that they may be frozen stiff come morning. This versatile, creamy potato leek soup can be served either hot or cold depending on your mood or the prevailing unseasonably seasonal weather. Either way, Vichyssoise for me is a “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” soup that features a pureed harmony of potatoes, leeks, and vegetable stock, all gilded with everyone’s favorite ingredient, heavy whipping cream.

My version celebrates Spring with its showcase of the often-overlooked flowers of the chive plant along with finely chopped fresh chives, the garnish of which we’ve dubbed a “chive bomb” in my restaurant, because a hearty “bam”-like scattering of these punchy herbs over the soup’s silky surface is a must…a flourish of white truffle oil doesn’t suck either.

For 6-8 servings:
  • 3½ cups vegetable stock
  • 3 cups (1#), peeled, chunked russet potatoes
  • 1½ cups (¼#) diced leeks (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 cup (¼#) julienned yellow onion
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • White pepper, finely ground, to taste
  • Garnish: chopped chives, chive flowers, and white truffle oil

Simmer potatoes, leeks, and onions in the vegetable stock until very tender and breaking apart, 30 to 45 minutes.

Puree with a hand blender until smooth, or in batches (once at a safe temperature) in a traditional blender. At this stage, the puree can be chilled or frozen for use at a later time.

Return puree to heat in a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in heavy whipping cream. If the soup is too thick, more vegetable stock or milk can be added. Add white pepper, and if necessary, salt to season.

Immediately ladle into soup bowls and “chive bomb” to garnish. Cap the opened end of the truffle oil bottle with your thumb and release just a suggestion of this elixir over each bowl. Lick thumb and reflect.