A delicious option for a light meal on a hot summer day is a chilled soup. Among the more famous are gazpacho, cucumber soup and vichyssoise. The origin of the potato-and-leek soup we know as vichyssoise is hotly debated. Julie Child called it an “American invention” whereas others credit the original recipe to the French spa resort town of Vichy where it was called Crème Vichyssoise Glacée- a name that denotes its typically creamy base.
To make it lighter, I don’t put any dairy products in my vichyssoise. Pureeing the combination of potatoes and leeks certainly makes the soup thick enough and can be enjoyed either cold or hot. The no-cream recipe made with vegetable stock also makes it a perfect option for vegetarians or vegans.
In the summertime, simple recipes are best. If you’re serving vichyssoise as an appetizer, pour it into little shot glasses – no spoon required! For a light meal, serve it in a pretty teacup alongside a garden-fresh salad.
3 russet potatoes
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 bunch of leeks (either 2 or 3 leeks)
Extra virgin olive oil
½ cup dry white wine
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 tablespoon white miso paste, dissolved in ¼ cup water.
Minced herbs for garnish
Peel the potatoes and submerge them in a large bowl of cold water. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Quite often I’ll also toss in the squeezed lemon half as well. This will help ensure that the potatoes do not become discolored. Cut each potato into ½ inch cubes and keep the cubes submerged in the water while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Trim the leeks by cutting off the dark green ends and slice each stalk in half lengthwise, keeping the root ends intact. Since leeks are grown in sandy soil, there is often some sand trapped between the leaves. Rinse each leek under running water, separating the layers to help rinse out any sand between the leaves. Cut the leeks into thin slices, discarding the root ends.
In a medium soup pot, heat 1½ tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on low heat until shimmering. Add the leeks and cook for 3 minutes until the leeks have softened but not browned.
Drain the potato cubes, discard the lemon and add the potatoes to the soup pot, constantly stirring for 1 minute.
Stir in the white wine, broth and miso paste. Cover the pot and let the soup simmer on low heat for 12 minutes. Check if the potatoes are tender by offering little resistance when poked with a fork or a paring knife. You don’t want to overcook the potatoes or the soup may become gummy. If they are still a bit hard, simmer for another 2 minutes then check again.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until no lumps remain. If your soup seems a bit too thick, you can add a ½ cup stock.
Although you can enjoy a hot cup of potato-leek soup immediately, for vichyssoise chill the soup in the refrigerator until cold, preferably overnight. Stir the soup well before serving.
To serve, sprinkle each serving with some delicate minced fresh herbs such as chives and dill.