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Warm potato leek soup (vichyssoise)

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Garden of Eating

(Read caption) Serve your potato leek soup with a dollop of sour cream on top.

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I made a big pot of this wonderful soup. It is comfort incarnate, especially when served hot, topped with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche, which is how I like it. Traditionally, vichyssoise is served cold but this is simply not the season for cold soups, at least not here in the northeast.

One of the things I love about cooking is experiencing the beauty of the ingredients. The unique color, shape and texture of each potato, the vivid chartreuse core you find when you cut into a leek, the crunchy, white crystals of Kosher salt, the thick, smooth surface on a cup of cream. It's a feast for the senses.
 
This is one of the simplest soups to make – you start by slicing the leeks and chopping the potatoes, then you sauté the leeks in butter or oil. Once they've softened, you add the cubed potatoes and sauté a bit longer. Then add the stock and bring it to a simmer until the potatoes are cooked through.

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Then it's time to break out your trusty immersion blender – one of my top five favorite kitchen tools – and blend until smooth (or not, it's up to you so just blend until it reaches your desired consistency.)

Recommended:Soup Recipes: Warm up with these soups, stews, chowders, and chilis

Although I sometimes make this soup with chicken broth and cream, I made this batch with vegetable broth (I was making a batch at the same time from my frozen veggie scraps) and skipped the cream, making it vegan. It's good either way.

Top with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh herbs – dill, fennel, thyme, marjoram – pretty much anything goes well.

Potato leek soup (vichyssoise)
Serves 6

4 organic potatoes, cubed (peel them if you want a really smooth soup)
6 leeks, white parts only, washed well to remove any dirt or sand, and chopped
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup of organic milk, 1/2 & 1/2 or cream (optional)
3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
A generous handful of fresh herbs, rinsed and chopped (dill, fennel fronds, thyme, marjoram, cilantro, etc.)
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sour cream or crème fraîche (optional)

1. Heat the butter or oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute them until soft – about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to saute until softened, another 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are completely softened, about 20 minutes. Add the milk or cream, if you're using it.

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3. Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender (or in batches in the blender) until completely smooth or until it reaches your desired consistency.

4. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Serve warm, topped with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche and a sprinkling of fresh herbs. 

Related post on Garden of Eating: Celeriac Potato Gratin


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