Please do not find me sacrilegious if I start off with an inspiration from Julia Child’s wonderful classic, Vichyssoise, and take it on some less-traveled road. Who knows, you might even welcome my making the recipe so elastic!
If you are looking to watch your starch intake, simply substitute 2 large celery knobs for the potatoes (as I often do just for variety), and you will be amazed at the results.
Although Vichyssoise is traditionally served chilled, try it hot sometime. My mom always served it hot, and never used any fancy words. She just called it “la soupe de pommes de terre et de poireaux” (Potato leek soup: Still sounds pretty good, no?)
“Broth” or “stock”: I have a deliciously and nutritiously simple way to get around the pesky step of preparing a chicken broth or stock as a base for this soup an a couple others that just must have the broth (onion soup comes to mind). And I will starve before I use bouillon cubes, canned broth and other calamities, so here’s what I do: For chicken broth I add white wine and white miso paste and instantly get rewarded with a whole new layer of flavor. For beef flavor, I use red wine and dark miso paste. The darkest the miso, the deeper the broth. Needless to say, no added salt to the recipe please, as miso paste has ample salt to season the whole soup.
Attention dairy-free diners, this is for you too: Use any dairy-free milk instead of regular milk or cream.
Immersion blender: A wonderfully nifty tool, inexpensive and portable (it will fit in a drawer) that allows you to blend your soup directly and in one shot in your pot. No transferring, no mess.
Just make sure there are no bones in the soup or you will break your blade.
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 3 large leeks, white parts only, sliced, washed and dried
- 6 ribs celery, peeled
- 4 large white-skin potatoes (try using the Yukon Gold), peeled and cut in large chunks
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup white miso paste (health food stores)
- 2 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves only, or 1 tablespoon dry
- 4 cups milk or dairy-free milk (rice, grain, oat, almond, soy)
- Good pinch nutmeg
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced chives
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a heavy pot. In a food processor, coarsely grind the onion, leeks, and celery. Add the ground mixture to the hot oil, and sauté until translucent. Add the potatoes, water, wine, miso, and tarragon, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes. Add the milk and nutmeg and heat again, but do not let the soup boil or the milk will curdle. Blend the mixture in a blender or with an immersion blender, until it is completely smooth. Add the chives and pepper. Adjust the texture and seasonings. Chill the soup and serve cold.