Gazpacho is a great hot-weather soup because it uses lots of fresh veggies and is very refreshing. But there are plenty of other cold soups out there than make terrific meals on a hot day, too. Another favorite of mine is Vichyssoise, or Potato Leek Soup. This soup is very simple to make and uses only a few ingredients. It tastes quite light and silky, but since it is a potato-based soup, it is actually quite filling and can easily be served as a main course with some bread or a small salad.
The soup is made by cooking onions, leeks and potatoes together in chicken broth, then pureeing it with some milk. If you want to make it richer, you can use cream in place of the milk. Both the potatoes and dairy add a very smooth texture to the finished soup, which is one of its best features. I almost always serve it cold, but this soup can actually be served hot, as well, if you can’t wait until it cools down in the refrigerator before digging in.
I use an immersion blender, which is basically a small food processor blade on a stick, to puree the soup right in its pot while it is still hot. If you don’t have one, you can cool the soup down a bit, then puree it in batches in a regular food processor. Just like making mashed potatoes, it is important not to over-do the pureeing of the potatoes, as they will get a bit gluey if you turn out the processor and just walk away for a few minutes.
Potato Leek Soup (Vichyssoise)
2 leeks, trimmed (light ends only)
1 medium onion
2 tbsp butter
4 medium potatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk or cream
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped chives or green onions, for garnish
Heat a large pot on the stove over medium heat.
Roughly chop leeks and onion (I like medium slices of each) and toss into pot with butter. Cook until onions begin to turn clear and are tender.
Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop potatoes. Add to leek mixture, along with chicken broth. Cover the pot and cook over medium heat (turn down the temp if the soup boils over) until potatoes are fork-tender, or about 20-30 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, or, working in batches, transfer it to a food processor to puree it. Do not overprocess. Stir in milk and salt and pepper, to taste, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
Soup should be served cold and will need to chill for about 3 hours or so after pureeing it.
Garnish soup with chives or green onions, and a bit of yogurt or cream, to serve.
Serves 6 (8 as a first course).