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The Heart of New England
Vichyssoise (cold leek potato soup)
by Charlie Burke

Upon hearing of the passing of Julia Child, I had many memories of her and
of her unaffected approach to cooking. She thought cooking should be fun,
and with her it was. Although she was serious about cooking, she never took
herself too seriously as she introduced us to the ingredients and techniques of
good cooking. She once said that although she loved many soups, “it’s leek
and potato that I dream of.”

With our leeks ready for harvest and new potatoes in our Farmers’ Markets, I
thought it fitting give a variation of Julia’s favorite soup for this weeks recipe.
The use of water rather than stock lets the fresh tastes of the leeks and
potatoes come through - honest and straight-forward, just like Julia. We make
it several times each summer and never seem to tire of it.

Six generous servings:  

2 tablespoons butter
4 cups chopped leeks, including tender green parts
2 tablespoon flour
6 cups water
4 cups potatoes, peeled and sliced into ½ inch thick pieces
Approximately 2 cups milk
½ cup heavy cream (optional)
1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
Ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped chives

In a heavy pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add leeks,
cover and cook until soft. Check and stir frequently to
prevent browning. Sprinkle flour over leeks and cook
scraping the bottom of the pan frequently until flour is
incorporated (about 3 minutes). Add a cup of the water,
stirring until incorporated and then add the remainder of
the water, the potatoes, the salt and pepper. Bring to a
simmer and cook until potatoes are soft. Puree in batches in
a blender, making sure the cover is secure. (When I blend
hot liquids I hold the cover on with a towel to catch any
splashes) Mix in the milk, adding more if you wish to have a
thinner consistency. Check seasoning, adding more salt if
necessary. Cold soups need slightly more salt. Add cream if
you wish; we like it with milk only. Chill thoroughly and
serve in chilled bowls, garnished with the chopped chives
which really add to the flavor.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is
the vice president of the
New Hampshire Farmer'sMarket Association,
president of the
NH Farm to Restaurant Connection and helps run the
Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along with his wife, Joanne, Charlie
grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather Hill Farm in
Sanbornton, NH.
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