April 28, 2015
It's so clear today that from where I'm sitting I can see both the Catskills and the Adirondacks, and if I get out the binoculars I can just make out Lake George far to the north.
It feels like spring is trying to arrive, and yet there's not a single local vegetable in the market and it feels like soup weather.
And so I ended up making this warm, vegetarian version of the rich, cold summer soup, Vichyssoise. It is not, by the way, a French dish. It was invented at the Ritz Hotel in New York in 1917 by Chef Louis Diat (who went on to become the resident chef at Gourmet Magazine in the fifties.)
Hot Vegetarian Vichyssoise
4 large leeks, washed cleaned of sand, white part finely chopped (5 cups)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
4 cups vegetable stock (recipe below)
5 small russet potatoes, peeled and chopped (1 pound)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup half and half
chopped chives or scallions
squeeze of lemon
Cook the leeks and onions slowly in the butter until they're soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. The quantity will reduce considerably.
Add the hot vegetable stock, the potatoes, and the salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for thirty minutes, partially covered.
Strain the mixture and puree the leeks and potatoes in a food processor.
Whisk the puree into the strained liquid, add a cup of milk, and a cup of half and half.
Bring to a boil and the very carefully puree the entire mixture again to make an extremely smooth soup. (Hot soup can be very painful when it hits your skin.O
Add a splash of lemon juice, taste for seasoning, and garnish with chopped chives or scallions.
Quick Vegetable Stock
To make a small amount of vegetable stock, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sized pot and saute half a chopped onion, one chopped carrot, the washed dark green tops of the leaks used for the soup, one chopped celery stalk, a few sprigs of thyme, and, if you happen to have it, a half fennel bulb, chopped. Add a few good grinds of black pepper and two quarts of water, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered.
Strain one quart of liquid from the vegetables and use for the vichyssoise.
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