This soup is probably harder to pronounce than it is to cook. It's certainly harder to spell, especially for someone like me who is dyslexic. I often say my dyslexia is one of the reasons I became a chef. I found it easier to express myself in the kitchen, through food and hard work instead of words.
Anyway, back to the soup. I know a lot of people have a total aversion to cold soup. "What's the point of a soup if it's cold?" they protest. I don't agree, and especially in your climate over there, this is a lovely cooling meal. But if you really are a total traditionalist and can't bear to eat cold soup, then go ahead and heat it up. It will still taste good.
Vichyssoise or, to give this dish its full name, Crème Vichyssoise Glacée, literally means iced cream soup of Vichy. But it doesn't come from the French town of Vichy at all; it got its name because the chef who came up with the dish (in the United States, as it happens) originally came from Vichy.
It is such a popular soup, I bet if you asked anyone to name three soups, Vichyssoise would be one of them. The mixture of cream, leeks and potatoes just seems to work so well, it's a perfect blend. But of course, because it sounds French, people assume it will be complicated. I'll tell you a secret; soups are rarely complicated. They are some of the easiest and most satisfying meals you can cook.
I often talk about the fact that chefs are not clever; what we are doing when we do our job well is letting Mother Nature show herself off. She's the clever one, she has produced everything we use. I hate chefs who try to tame her and impose their views on her. What can a chef possibly hope to create that can compete with a tomato ripened by the sun or asparagus grown in a country field or an orange from Seville?
Soup is one the best ways to let nature shine. Just follow the recipe and let her sing. Who needs to know how to spell it? Just enjoy it.
Leek and potato soup
1.8l chicken stock
8 medium-sized leeks, finely sliced
3 medium-sized white onions, finely sliced
2 medium-sized potatoes, finely sliced
200ml double cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small bunch chives, chopped
1. Bring the stock to the boil. Sweat the leeks and onions in butter in a large pan until they are soft, but do not allow to colour. Add the finely sliced raw potatoes and the boiling stock and cook over a high heat for 10 minutes.
2. Add the cream and cook for a further 2 minutes. Purée the soup with a stick mixer then pass through a fine sieve. Season to taste.
3. Pour the soup into serving bowls and garnish with a sprinkling of chives.
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