It starts with soup. The simplest of soups. Humble potatoes, a pot, a couple of minutes with a knife, a meditative simmer. Simplicity, comfort, elegance boiled into one.
Hello! Its been awhile,eh? I'm still cooking, eating, and drinking, of course! And so with a container of peeled potatoes, a bag of tender leeks, and the best exercise in cooking with what you have, my comeback presented itself. And where I was least looking for it. No grand preparations, no obscure recipes or tales from another land, but rather with this simplest of soups made on a rainy day in Vancouver. With this pale, un-photogenic bowl of "potage" I arrive back to this space quietly with little fanfare but all of the promises of before: to document, to advise, to cook, to eat, but mostly to share.
Also known as Vichyssoise, when chilled, this dish is a regular in our household in summer, whether made in honour of a special friend or added to a picnic basket. If you can peel a potato, or find someone to do it for you, if you can boil water and slice an onion, you can make this. And all in the span of the time it takes you to to change into your jammies and surf the PVR for something to watch on TV tonight. While its bubbling, you'll slice a few slices of hearty country bread, put out a chunk of gouda or cheddar, drizzle some olive oil and lemon juice on some greens and pour a glass of Chardonnay. Today's recipe is for all of you who think homemade soup isn't worth your time or beyond your skill-set. And for those of you seasoned cooks, this is for you too, to remind all of us of the beauty of a meal that is comprised of a couple of ingredients, a little time, and almost no work.
Until next time, eat soup!
Leek and Potato Soup
adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child
notes: while I like the way russet potatoes behave when blended, this soup is especially good with yellow fleshed potatoes like Bintze, Sieglunde or more commonly Yukon Gold. When using these potatoes be sure to blend just until smooth to avoid a gummy texture.
1 pound potatoes, peeled, sliced thickly
1 pound white and pale green parts of leek, sliced
2 litres cold water
1 tsp herb de provence or dried thyme leaves, or a couple sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 bay leaves
salt, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons cream, or creme fraiche
In amedium pot combine potatoes, leeks, water and spices. Bring to a boil, adding salt along the way until the broth tastes good. Salt is important here, add little bits often, tasting along the way. Keep the soup simmering nicely, but gently for about 30 minutes. Taste as you go adding more salt, pepper or other herbs. When potatoes and leeks are very soft, remove from heat. Blend until smooth with an immersion blender, food processor or blender. Once blended whisk in butter and cream.
Serve at once drizzled with olive or herb oil or with crumbled bacon, or keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. This soup can be frozen but thaws to a spongy mess. Don't fret. Once heated it will right itself.
Add 2 handfuls of stemmed spinach, nettles or watercress to the soup in the blender.