In summer, there isn’t a tastier food than cold soup on a hot day.Many years ago, when the LA Times had pages and pages of simple, good-tasting and fairly easy-to-prepare recipes, I struggled to try them all.
Today’s recipes in the same paper have evolved into imaginative, intensive creations for those who would like to WOW their dinner guests (and spend a week ahead of time working in the kitchen to make sure every flake of pepper sits in its rightful place before it is served.) Just this week a cold corn soup recipe appeared, and after about 5 readings to make sure I understood just what to do with those simple ingredients (such as de-kernelled corn cobs), I decided I may try it and see if it too will become a “keeper.”But my favorite cold soup of all times is “Vichyssoise” – or often referred to as a rich man’s potato soup! I have no recollection where I picked up this recipe, but I’m thinking it was not in the Times. However, it is simply delicious, restorative and hard to stop eating. (More about that later.) Here’s the recipe – simple and doable:
Serves 6 to 8
4 leeks, white part only, sliced1 medium onion, sliced
2 ounces sweet butter5 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 quart chicken broth1 T salt
3 C milk2 C heavy cream
Finely chopped chives
Brown the leeks and onions in the sweet butter, being careful not to scorch the butter. Then add the potatoes, chicken broth and salt. Boil for 35 to 40 minutes. Crush and run through a fine strainer or puree in a blender. Chill well; add the milk and the heavy cream. Season to taste. Sprinkle with chopped chives. Serve chilled.
What the recipe doesn’t say but I have learned from experience is to wash the inside and outsides of the leeks thoroughly. A little grit sometimes gets tucked down inside the leaves and it really doesn’t belong in this recipe.
There was a time in our lives when Jerry and I were doing a lot of dinner parties and I loved starting my summer tables off with this. When you have it in a restaurant you get a little bit, though you always wish you could have seconds! When you make it yourself you can, and the first time I made it I became an absolute glutton. I learned that it tastes wonderful for breakfast, an additional cup at lunch goes well with the hot afternoon, and by dinner time I wasn’t yet sated, so I had another cup.
It was so good and refreshing that I took a nip before bed. Sometime in the night my intestines got me out of bed, and I actually thought I might have picked up a bug somewhere. I still wasn’t myself the next morning, running occasionally to and from the bathroom, but still well enough to take a slug of the left-over vichyssoise as I passed by. I was borderline sick when I went off to work on Monday with some soup in a thermos for lunch. I told my boss I wasn’t feeling up to par but would stick it out as long as I could.
He saw me pour my cup of chilled vichyssoise for lunch and asked what I was having. I told him about the delicious soup I’d made and how I was really pigging out on it. Hands on his hips, he looked me in the face and called me an idiot. (We were on good terms). “Don’t you know that all this milk and cream you are drinking is playing havoc with your intestines? “ and he proceeded to lecture me that I my own gluttony was causing my illness. He reiterated that I was an idiot.
Because I don’t like plain milk and never drink it, I guess that little fact simply escaped my awareness. I was grateful to learn that little tidbit, and although I have used this same recipe through the years, my quota is just about a demitasse cup-sized serving. Better safe than sorry, I now say!
Anyway, keep that in mind, treat yourself with a yummy summer soup, and enjoy!