Tuesday, September 2, 2008

eat your soup before it gets warm

I'm not myself.

Or rather, I don't think I'm really in full possession of myself.

Let me explain.

Firstly, outfitting my kitchen (nicknamed the Money Pit) has become a very expensive venture, and at last count, Bed, Bath and Beyond, T.J. Maxx, and that fancy kitchenware place on Newbury Street all had mortgages on my soul.*

(I know now why people get married: it's so that someone else can buy them mixing bowls and trivets and casserole dishes.)

Secondly, the credit card company now has a claim on one of my vital organs (I hear they're eyeing my left kidney), because I broke down and went out and bought a digital camera this weekend.

Which means that thirdly, my readership (all ten of them) will be out for my blood if I don't start adding pictures to my blog entries. Regularly.

The good news is that at least my tastebuds and digestive system are still mine, and I am the proud owner of a brand new stick blender.

Stick blenders are heralds of all sorts of good things: fruit smoothies (breakfast on the go), berry coulis to accompany murderous chocolate torte, and all kinds of pureed soups.

Like vichyssoise, which is a rather silly way of saying "chilled leek and potato soup." It's an awfully fun way of saying it, though. All those sibilants: vichyssssoisssssse.

Vichyssoise is either of French or American origin. The generally accepted story says that it was invented sometime in the early twentieth century by the French-born Louis Diat, then head chef at the Ritz-Carlton in New York. Not all culinary historians agree, however, and there's probably as much literature on the subject as there is on the homard à l'americaine/l'armoricaine debate.**

Whatever its origins, the consensus is that it contains pureed leeks, potatoes, chicken stock, and cream, and is always served chilled. This is where I commit my bit of heresy: I omit the cream. I find that it detracts from the sweet flavor of the leeks and the mildness of the potatoes. In the interests of making sure no-one else comes after any of my vital organs, however, I will refrain from calling my version vichyssoise.

Even if "chilled leek and potato soup" isn't quite so much fun to say.

Chilled Leek and Potato Soup
(Not Quite Vichysoisse, But Close)

Take careful note of the name of this soup. It is leek-and-potato, emphasis on the leek. You'll need slightly more leek than potato, or equal amounts at the very least. Use more potato than leek, and you run the very real risk of ending up with wallpaper paste.

(Serves one for several meals.)

Take two or three large leeks and two medium boiling potatoes (russets are good) and wash them clean. Leeks grow in sandy soil and are especially prone to being gritty.

Discard the green parts of the leeks, and slice the white parts finely into strips or rounds. Peel the potatoes and cut them into small cubes.

Transfer both the leeks and the potatoes to a heavy-bottomed pot. Cover with mild stock - vegetable or chicken, your choice. Put a lid on the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat to a low simmer.

Cook for forty to fifty minutes, or until the leeks are tender and the potatoes fall apart easily when you poke them with a fork. Remove the pot from heat. Leave the lid off and allow the mixture to cool.

When the mixture is cool (or very slightly lukewarm), use a stick blender, regular blender, or food processor to puree the vegetables.*** Salt to taste, then add a little extra. (Cold mutes flavors, so you need to compensate.)

Once pureed, let the soup cool further as necessary, then transfer to the fridge. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Serve with a sprinkling of fresh herbs - chives, parsley, and dill are all good - and crusty bread on the side.

Note: You can add light cream if you like, but I like this soup just fine without.

*They're going to have to fight the American Bar Association for it, but that's another matter.

**A lobster dish with an identity crisis. The Larousse Gastronomique is as good a starting point as any if you really want to see the confusion for yourself.

***The reason you don't want to put hot liquid in the blender - apart from the risk of burns from splashing liquid - is because the o-ring that provides a seal between the base and the jug isn't very heatproof. Putting hot liquid in the blender will make the o-ring disintegrate, resulting in unintentional absurdity at the dinner table when you fish in your bowl for all the little rubbery bits.


Julie said...

But there are few things as enjoyable as outfitting a kitchen. Plus a new camera and a new stick blender? Yay! That's some exciting stuff.

Terril said...

I love the opening of this article and came here to see where it was going. It move to a very interesting recipe and thanks for that.

As for the stores and credit cards owning your sole -- not going to happen. But you might change your habits a bit -- shop those stores then come online and find the same things for quite a bit less. That way you can shop more and get more interesting things for you kitchen.

Your Smart Kitchen

adele said...

Julie - My inner foodie is delighted. My wallet, not so much.

Terril - Well, there's some exaggeration for effect. I had coupons and took advantage of sales, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been. :)

I would do more shopping online, but I've been soured on the experience after having to fight UPS for my butcher block.

Virgin In The Volcano said...

Dude, I'd get married for new knives and a Royal Dalton service for 16.

adele said...

I want a stand mixer. I wish there were other life events that came with kitchenware.

I guess there's always graduation.

Cakelaw said...

LOL - I will now have to arrange an engagement so that people can fund my expensive baking habits. Love the pics with your new camera, and the leek and potato soup (can't pretend I know how to pronounce the French) looks delicious.

adele said...

Well, as far as I can see, the options are getting hitched, or going into catering. :)

"Vichyssoise" is prounounced roughly "vish-ee-swaz."

Yulinka said...

I, too, get all excited about new kitchen gadgets. I always think that they'll chance my life, but, of course, I don't use them that often. My boyfriend has a stick blender, and I've never even tried it out!

Kim said...

Isn't it fun to have a new camera, and yes we will be waiting for images. Nothing wrong with getting hitched, but you know my vote goes to Adele.....Catering!

Karyn said...

Ha, if I get married, it will only be to land a KitchenAid mixer ...

adele said...

Yulinka - I recommend that you play around with it. It's lots of fun.

Kim - Well, I've figured out how it works. I still prefer film, but I'm stubborn that way.

Karyn - Good to know I'm not alone.