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
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.
- 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.
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