Saturday, January 12, 2013

Leek and Potato Cream Soup- Hot or Cold?

The Brits and the French have their versions of Cream of Leek and Potato soup; the French took it one step further- they also serve it cold and call it Vichyssoise... the summer version.  Thailand even has a version- truthfully, that would likely be called fusion cuisine and it probably has never been seen in Thailand :-)

I prefer this soup hot, with a light salad and a warm baguette.  Sit by the window and watch the snow fall and the cars slide by...  It's easy and quick to put together and it leaves lots of room to "play".  Try to use homemade chicken stock- it's so much more flavourful than the store bought stuff.  Use vegetable stock for a totally meatless version.  You could garnish your soup with homemade croutons.
Leek and Potato soup topped with homemade croutons
The directions for this soup are much the same as those for the rustic leek and potato soup.  At least, until you puree and add the cream. So, you could make a big batch and divide it into the two versions.

To serve 4-6
2     tbsp butter
1     cup onion, chopped (about one medium)
5     leeks, white and light green parts only.  Wash well and slice thinly crosswise (about 4 cups)
1     tbsp flour
4     cups chicken stock
2     russet potatoes (or any high-starch variety) (about 2 cups) peeled and cut into large cubes
1     cup half and half cream (for extra richness, use heavy cream)
Salt and pepper to taste
finely minced fresh chives to garnish.

Sauté the leeks and onions
Heat the butter in a large stockpot over medium-low heat until foaming.  Stir in the leeks and onion, increase the heat to medium, cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to coat evenly.  Cook until the flour dissolves.

Increase the heat to high.  Whisking constantly, add the stock gradually.  Throw in the bay leaf and potatoes.  Simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about five-ten minutes.

Working in batches, puree the mixture in a blender until it liquifies, then pour through a sieve back into the cleaned soup pot.  Stir in the half and half (cream, if using), adjust the seasonings for salt and pepper, and heat on low until hot.  Do not let it boil.  Divide into serving bowls, sprinkle with minced chives and serve.
Pouring through the sieve

The soup will keep up to two days, well covered in the refrigerator.

You could pump up your soup by topping it with grilled shrimp, say three per bowl.  Or, top with homemade croutons.
To make the cold version- à la Vichyssoise- pour the sieved puree into a bowl, stir in the half and half, taste for salt and pepper and cool to room temperature.  Cover tightly, then refrigerate for about four hours before serving.

Thai Fusion: I've used coconut milk to replace the cream, added Thai curry paste and lemongrass and called it Thai soup.


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