Soup puree

really chunks … Soup puree

This leek and potato soup is one

Of our rainy weather favorites.

Don't call it vichyssoise — the classic French leek and potato soup looks beautiful and tastes unremarkable, in my opinion. This is soup looks disgusting and tastes fantastic. You don't have to start with a few ounces of hard salami like I do. You could skip it or use bacon or another fatty, cured meat. I like to buy a whole hard sausage so I can cut if up into really big, chewy chunks. I'm gonna partially puree the soup, so not all the pieces will be this big in the end. In those go to my cold, dry soup pot.

As it heats up, enough fat will render out of the salami to cook itself. I want to get those browned. While I wait, I've got a pound and half of leeks to deal wit — 680 grams, but is not exact science. I'll bisect that lengthwise, and the thing about leeks is they are, like so many of us, dirty on the inside. Normally I would bisect it and rinse out the layers under running water. But I have a lot of leeks to clean here, so today I think I'm just gonna cut all of these up first and dump the pieces in a big bowl. Cut off the roots, slice up the middle so that all the layers will fall apart from each other, and then slice crosswise into little strips. For classical vichyssoise, for cosmetic reasons, you would only use the white part that grew under the soil.

I don't want to waste all this green part, so I'll keep going until I get to the really dry and fibrous parts up top. Why bother with leeks? Why not just use little green onions instead? Well, you could. Green onions also have dirt between the layers. We just usually don't notice it because they're smaller. You could just use a normal bulb onion. But leeks do have this particular leeky flavor that people prize for a reason. I'm not sure what it is, chemically. But leeks have this mild sweetness that really shines through in something subtly flavored, like a potato soup.

So now I will swish these pieces around in water to knock off the dirt and the sand, and then I will fill the bowl up with a lot of excess water. Take it back over to the pot and now I can just lift the pieces straight up and out and into the pot on top of the now browned salami. Check it, all the sand has settled to the bottom, and it's better to dump that outside anyway, rather than sending it down the sink. It could mess with your garbage disposal. Stir all that up get the leeks softening. Classically you would use gentle heat and not brown anything, but I like to let them brown a little. I've got a roughly equal quantity of potatoes. You could use any kind of potato, but I think floury potatoes give the soup a slightly granular texture, so I use waxy, and if I were just cooking this for myself I would not bother peeling them, but Lauren things the skins are kinda slimy in the context of a soup and hey, she's probably right.

I usually cut them like French fries and then clank across the fries into chunks. Again, I'm gonna half puree this, so most of these chunks will end up smaller still, but Lauren likes to have at least a few big chunks in the final soup. Dump those in with leeks, and stir them in.

If you cook them dry like this

For a few minutes that just accelerates the process, gets them softer a little bit faster.

Makes sure to scrape the bottom of pan though, or else you're likely to get a sticky layer of starch on the bottom that burns. When everything has gotten a good head start it's time to pour in water or stock, this is chicken stock. And I just barely cover the solids. If I want a looser texture I can always add more liquid later.

I just go by the color. It's generally safer to put in cream toward the end of cooking. If it gets too hot, the casein proteins squeeze too tight, they curdle, they get all gritty, the dairy fat separates out and you loose that thick, natural emulsion. However, you do want to bring the cream up to a gentle simmer for a few minutes. You want to denature the casein a little, until you see the broth noticeably thicken just a bit. The value of cream, apart from its flavor, is that velvety texture it brings to soups, and you have to cook it a little to achieve that. I'm gonna turn the heat off now, just to be safe. It's gonna stay how for a long time.

Vichyssoise is classically puréed totally smooth. You could have to puree your soup at all. I like to whiz it up halfway, and immersion blenders are really good for that, because they give you so much control. But this is one of many reasons why it's helpful to make soup in a tall, narrow pot. If the fluid level was too, I wouldn't be able to keep the blade submerged and I would be spraying soup everywhere. I just want to bust the potatoes up just enough that I get a really thick soup, but there's still lots of big chunks to bite through. That looks about right. Time to season — I'm sure that they would use white pepper for vichyssoise to keep the color pure, but I obviously can't be bothered.

I'll probably only need a pinch of salt because the stock and salami were already pretty salty. Stir that up and have a taste. Tastes pretty good, but it could use some freshening. This is why the kitchen gods gave us fresh herbs. Rosemary is great in wintery dishes, and it's much easier to cut with a knife but I already washed my cutting board, so scissors. And then I'll pick a few sprigs of thyme, another woody, resinous, wintery herb. If you pair rosemary with thyme, it helps to keep the rosemary from making things taste like a pine tree. Stir those in, and that's it.