Local Hawaii ingredients used with an international flair
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Vichyssoise: Elegant, easy and not so rich
by Nanette Geller
Larry loves Vichyssoise, a rich, suave cold soup of leek and potatoes. For all its elegance, it is rooted in French peasant cooking. It starts with a base of Potage Parmentier, which at its simplest can be made with just leeks, potatoes, water and salt, simmered till tender and enriched before serving with just a touch of cream or butter. Pureeing is optional.
For Vichyssoise, the water is usually replaced with chicken stock and the chilled, pureed soup is enriched with cream. Lots of cream. Ok for an occasional indulgence, but not exactly everyday fare.
Yukon Gold potatoes are more flavorful than the russet potatoes called for in most recipes. When Milner Farm has wonderful Yukon Golds from Twin Bridge Farms on the same day that Pit Farm has their vibrantly fresh leeks, I like to make a treat for Larry.
I started with Julia Child’s basic recipe for Potage Parmentier. Equal parts peeled, sliced potatoes and trimmed, sliced leeks. Cover with water, salt to taste, and simmer until the vegetables are soft. Mash or puree. At this point, it’s already a delicious hot soup even without the addition of a bit of cream.
Blenders turn mashed potatoes to a gluey mess, but work ok on potatoes when there’s liquid. I use my immersion blender right in the cooking pot. It’s easier and less mess than a regular blender.
Now to turn this peasant soup into gourmet fare.
Chill thoroughly. It will thicken a bit. At this stage it will keep for several days in the refrigerator, so I make enough to serve two or three times.
When ready to serve, dilute with milk to the texture of heavy cream.
Blend in about 1 teaspoon of crème fraiche per serving (optional but recommended).
It’s not quite as rich-tasting as an authentic Vichyssoise, but it’s still delicious.
It’s amazing how much more luxurious it tastes served in an elegant glass.
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