Vichyssoise or Leek and Potato Soup when served hot

Leek and Potato Soup Served Hot, or served chilled as Vichyssoise for summer
Vichyssoise is something I’ve never had as I’m not overly keen on chilled thick soups in summer. I far prefer them served hot. And this is probably no exception. The last time I made this I’d used organic vegetable stock and wasn’t that impressed, and certainly didn’t go with a post. As I was out food shopping a couple of days ago leeks and potatoes are both on special offer this week in one of my local stores and, you’ve guessed it, this soup immediately sprung to mind. And I’m so glad I’ve made this again as it is truly delicious. However, I’m hoping that no one will be put off by the fairly extensive ingredients list below, as home-made stocks are incredibly easy to prep and cook. All of 15 minutes to prep, once stock is brought to a boil with a lid on pan, the heat’s reduced and the stock simmered for two hours. That simple! And what a difference a decent stock makes to any soup and sauce/gravy.

If you’re wondering why the Leek and Potato Soup is that pale golden colour it’s partly to do with the stock as it turned out a beautiful shade of ochre. And it’s partly to do with using new potatoes, mostly kept in their skins, and to a lesser extent the leeks were allowed to caramelise for nearly an hour. OK, so this isn’t a quick and easy midweek sups. It’s far better to make the stock the night before, along with caramelising the leeks, and finish off the soup the following day. That way it’s possible to grab any fat that has coagulated on the surface of the stock and discard it. Here, as I’ve been wolfing my way through cartons of single/light and sour cream of late I’m not serving this with. Ordinarily it would be. And there seems to be an argument over which country created the original version of Vichyssoise in the first place. Huh, I neither care nor wish to elaborate. I would’ve thought it’s highly likely that leek and potato soup has existed, in some form, for possibly hundreds of years all over Europe.

Leek and Potato Soup Served Hot, or served chilled as Vichyssoise for summer

INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE STOCK:

  • 200g (7.05 oz) x onions, peeled, trimmed, halved and sliced in half again
  • 2 x carrots, peeled, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • green parts of leeks, trimmed and thoroughly washed
  • 2 x celery stalks, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 500g x chicken leg quarters, excess fat removed and discarded
  • 3 x garlic cloves, root end cut off and peeled
  • 1 x dried bay leaf, split
  • 15 x juniper berries
  • 3 x sprigs fresh thyme, rinsed
  • 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
  • 500ml (1.056 US pt lqd) x water + extra for thinning soup to the desired consistency
  • about 5 or 6 x grinds of coarse sea salt and black pepper corns
  • pinch x cayenne pepper – optional

FOR THE SOUP:

  • 400g (14.11 oz) x trimmed leeks, trim, slice into discs and rinse thoroughly in cold water
  • 400g (14.11 oz) x new potatoes (I’ve used Maris Peer), scrubbed and kept whole, cut out any knobbly bits and dark marks and do cut them in half if quite large
  • single/light or sour cream to serve

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Put all ingredients into a large heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 4 (out of 6) with a lid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for at least 2 hours. Take off heat and allow to cool slightly before removing the chicken pieces and storing those separately. If storing overnight I left the veg and spices in. Following day skim off any coagulated fat on the surface and discard. Pick out the bay leaves and garlic and set aside. Put the stock back on lowish heat and once it’s warm strain through a metal colander into a suitable container. Then, using a large metal serving spoon, squeeze out as much juice as possible from the remaining veg in the colander. Discard pulp that’s left. Strain the stock through a fine wire metal sieve into a large saucepan, and return the garlic. Add the scrubbed potatoes, put on heat No 4, bring those to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer until cooked. Remember, do not add salt for the potatoes at this stage.
  • Meanwhile, put a large heavy-based saucepan on heat No 3, and when pan is hot pour in a little oil, add the leeks, clamp on a lid and leave for about 10 minutes. Take off lid and stir through. As the leeks cook they decrease in volume by almost two thirds. Reduce heat to No 2 and keep stirring occasionally with the lid slightly askew, reducing heat further if any signs of scorching happens. Add a splash of water if they’re looking too dry.
  • Once stock has been fully prepared and the potatoes are cooked allow enough time for the stock to cool before blending. Remove the bay leaves! Add the leeks, and when cool enough to do so blend until smooth. At this stage I rinsed out the jug of the blender with extra water as I’m not keen on thick soups. Put soup back on heat if serving hot, and make sure it’s piping hot. Do taste for any needed seasoning and pour in as much or as little cream as desired.

All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn


19 comments

  1. I’m not a chilled soup fan either. I’ve discovered all sorts of tricks to avoid cream in creamy soups. Add some rice in the initial stages and let it cook to mush with the veg. When you purée the soup it will be creamy. Also good quality soy milk makes a good substitute without the fat and joules. Can’t have Johnny developing blogger belly or butt!

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    • – Hah! The littl’ grunter hasn’t returned from hols last summer. So, a little single cream is definitely the way to go with this particular soup. I’ve had so much of the stuff recently I’m simply trying to give my sinuses a break!
      – Like your tips re rice and soy milk, the latter I’ve never liked. I do love rice in soups, though.

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  2. I do like chilled soups, but I most certainly prefer potato-and-leek soup hot! Yours sounds delicious and comforting and I love the addition of cream as well, but unfortunately, your post also reminds me of how cold and winter-like the weather still is outside! Oh well. At least we can still get comfort from our soups (I had a spiced lentil and spinach soup today). 🙂

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    • – As I was walking by the beach earlier to get to the shops I was inwardly cursing this weather! It’s bitter here at the coast. No snow, at least. However, I’m looking forward to British Summer Time happening this Easter Sunday. Yeah, even more time to take photos!
      – Love the idea of your spiced lentil and spinach soup! I don’t remember seeing that within your A-Z – well, you know my memory. Hopefully going with spinach, mushrooms and eggs this weekend.

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        • – It’s those icy cold northerly winds that seem to screech through me. By the time I get to town proper there’s usually a little shelter afforded by the Stone Pier and the narrow streets of the Old Town. Regardless of how cold it is I never seem to tire of walking by the beach 🙂
          – Thanks for the link; and looking forward to your lentil and spinach soup if and when you post.

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  3. I have to say I am the worst person at making soup… ever! I am a good cook, I can make many dishes but no matter what I put in soup it it turns out brown and lumpy and turns into bin food. I have no idea where I am going wrong, but if I could make soup I would probably live off it. When my brother (who is an amazing cook) comes up to see me, I force him to make his delicious soups which I can freeze until he next comes up! I really would appreciate a guide on how to make soup, even the simplest of soups like vegetable or anything!

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    • – If you follow the instructions and get the measurements right soups shouldn’t pose a problem. A really good stock, either home-made or shop-bought, can make or break a soup. The texture, for me, is also incredibly important. There are several soups I’ve yet to attempt, tomato being one of them. And I’m going to force myself to try making carrot and ginger soup over the weekend as I’m never overly keen on cooked carrots – love ’em raw with dips. That soup should be incredibly simple to make, I’m hoping. My best advice is to watch your brother as he is preparing and making his soups, writing notes of exact quantities, times and methods used.
      – Thanks for your comment!

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    • – Totally agree about stock – except that I don’t make chicken stock like I was taught in catering college, with claws, gizzards and lots of other goodies!
      – Actually, the new potatoes I’ve bought are too small to bother to peel. I normally try and buy organic at this time of year so I never have to peel them. It’s less to do with laziness and more to do with valuable nutrients – well, I say that anyway, not really believing a word I’m typing!

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    • Thank you! I’m still keeping with the comfort feel to photos as it’s still so cold, just above freezing here. And thrilled to hear that. I haven’t made them since. Such simple comfort food. Love ’em. Have a great Easter!

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  4. I usually make my own stock too. In your/this stock recipe, what I found interesting is the use of juniper berries (only because I did not know about them) and vegetable stock cube (probably because of other spices in it?).
    Truly, a beautifully made soup.

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    • With poaching chicken I love using juniper berries, which I suppose is a Brit thing to do. Huh, not really sure about that. It could be considered old fashioned. As for adding a stock cube, as I’m only poaching two thighs and drumsticks it’s not really enough chicken to make a proper stock without adding a cube to gain that needed flavour profile, if that makes sense. If using the entire carcass then extra veg is all that’s needed. Home-made stock is so good to do sometimes as it can lift the simplest of ingredients and make those shine.

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    • Hah! Whilst travelling through Bulgaria, a stunning country, they were serving their soups just warm during very hot summer days. I wasn’t even keen on that, regardless of how fresh. I just happen to love hot soup when it’s hot and sunny. The same with spicy foods.

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