Leek. Kind of an ugly word, I have to say. And one of those vegetables that not all have heard of and even fewer know how to cook.
When three leeks showed up in my farm share this fall, I knew exactly where to look for inspiration. Mireille Guiliano’s incredibly popular guide to the French culinary lifestyle, French Women Don’t Get Fat, actually caused a nation-wide shortage of leeks due to its diet-jumpstarting recipe for “magical leek soup.”
Though I was not planning to serve my dinner guest this metabolism re-orienting elixir, I knew that Mireille would come through with other uses for this elegant bulbs. In her follow-up text French Women for All Seasons, Mireille gives several other examples of how to cook this increasingly popular veggie including this delightfully simple soup.
The first time I made this dish, I used both leeks and potatoes fresh from the farm. Subsequent efforts with store (Whole Foods) bought items have not been quite as satisfying, and I highly recommend going local for the potatoes (if possible) for the best flavor. Otherwise, using small – baby or new – potatoes can make a vast improvement on the taste of the larger, factory-farmed, bland varieties.
Vichyssoise is meant to be a chilled soup, but I find this recipe so delicious hot that I usually end up eating half of it right away and chilling the rest for later.
Prep time: 60 minutes (mostly inactive, plus six hours to chill if cold soup is desired)
Adapted from French Women for All Seasons by Mireille Guiliano
- 1 onion
- 3 leeks
- 5-6 small potatoes
- 1 quart broth (I used mushroom flavored broth cubes added to water, but feel free to use store bought broth, or the homemade variety for the particularly ambitious)
- yogurt (can leave out if cooking for lactose intolerant guests)
- Set broth over high heat and bring to a boil. If using broth cubes, fill a pot with a quart of water and set over high heat.
- Add three tablespoons of butter (you can use olive oil instead if you prefer) to a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Roughly chop the onion and the leek (only the bottom white parts) and add to the melted butter.
- If using broth cubes, add to the heated water now.
- Peel and dice the potatoes.
- After the onions and leeks have cooke for ten minutes and onions have become translucent, add the potatoes and broth to the saucepan with the leeks and onions.
- Allow the soup to cook for 25-35 minutes over low or medium-low heat. The soup (and your whole house, in fact) should be highly aromatic. If the soup is not very fragrant, you may want to let it cook a bit longer if time allows.
- Pour the soup into a blender and puree.
- Return the pureed soup to the saucepan. It should now be very smooth in consistency and opaque in color.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- If using yogurt, add two tablespoons to half a cup to the soup for desired creaminess. The original recipe uses sour cream, but I feel like that does not make the soup creamy so much as mask the natural flavors.
- If serving hot, serve the soup right away with a half teaspoon of yogurt and a bit of dill or chives as garnish. Otherwise, refrigerate for 4 hours or more before serving.