Vichyssoise

by brookefiore

If November Sundays weren’t made for soup making then I don’t know they’re for. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a bit but Sunday afternoon sure seemed like the perfect opportunity to cook up a batch of vichyssoise. This is a soup I’ve had my eye on for awhile now. It’s creamy and delicious and the challenge of getting the extra-smooth texture intrigued me.

I picked up my ingredients ahead of time so that this wouldn’t end up being an all-day affair in the kitchen. After all the sun was shining, the temperature was hovering right around sixty degrees and I had an agenda. Seal watching and vichyssoise. Strange combination I realize.

The sun hangs low even at noon time over Long Island Sound, the lush greenery among the estates of Fisher’s Island have since withered to reveal a beige and brown landscape warning that winter is not so far away. But out on the sound the boat cuts through the water at great speed so as not to kick up ocean spray into the boat.

The wind whips at my face leaving a pink glow that sticks around until after dinner. We approach the clumps of rocks and they look just as they did back in July when the boat was filled with beach towels and swimming noodles. Except as we come closer on our approach something is special about these rocks today. The seals sit atop the rocks sunning themselves in the early November sun.

They turn there heads watching us as we watch them, our cue that we’re too close. We putter along at a safer distance and take in this unique landscape. The seals will be with us on our rocky coastline growing and eating until the spring when they head back to Maine to have their pups. 

Another pleasant surprise is the duck sighting I encounter in West Harbor. I’ve been watching these ducks all summer long. Their bright orange webbed feet and pure white coats are almost surreal but they seem to fit the coastline over on the island just perfectly. I feared that they had flown South but much to my delight there they were just as I had last seen them in September.

I returned home to begin my vichyssoise adventure. This was my first time cooking with Leeks and thankfully I had found a guide on cutting and washing them other wise I think I would have been a bit lost. I have to warn you, this recipe sure gave the food processor a work out and the straining action was a bit time consuming. 

If you’re willing to make the commitment then this soup is worth a shot. It is creamy and smooth and full of flavor. Traditionally enjoyed cold, I taste-tested it this way but opted for a warmed up version to serve alongside our dinner of eye roast and Yorkshire pudding. I also was happy to snatch the last of the chives from the garden before they wilted in winter anticipation.

Classic Vichyssoise

Serves 6

4 medium leeks, trimmed and washed and sliced 1/8 inch thick (about 3 cups)

2 large yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick (about 4 cups)

2 cups whole milk (I used 1% milk)

1 cup heavy cream (I used light cream)

salt

1 TBSP thinly sliced chives, for garnish

Combine the leeks, potatoes, milk and 2 cups water in a 4-quart pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 tsp salt, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer about 20 minutes (a potato slice should fall apart when poked with a fork). Remove from heat, stir in the cream and let cool briefly. 

Puree the soup, preferably using a blender (or food processor) and working in batches. Strain the pureed soup through a fine sieve using a spoon to press. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Thin soup with water before serving if necessary. Serve cold in chilled bowls (traditional) or serve hot. Season with salt and pepper if desired and garnish with chives. 

This recipe was adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, yes, the same one I have gotten a lot of my recipes from. Ten dollars well spent if you ask me!

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