A Lighter Vichyssoise or Creamed Leek and Potato Soup

soupcu1Want another quick, simple, delicious and lighter soup recipe? This is a “lightened up” fix for an easy favorite…vichyssoise, or leek and potato soup. My lighter version is pureed and creamed, much like the original, but with a simple sub of lightened sour cream instead of copious amounts of heavy cream, you can definitely cut back on the calories and fat without sacrificing the flavor.

I think you’ll find that the sour cream adds a slight tang that naturally complements the leeks and the potato. This version is a little thicker, but is just as velvety as the original. Depending on how starchy your potatoes are you may wish to thin the soup with a bit more broth or water after you puree it. You could even use Greek yogurt as a substitute for the sour cream, but I happen to like the body and smoother consistency that the sour cream provides.

Like the traditional vichyssoise, this soup comes together incredibly quickly and is good hot or cold, which means you can eat it all year long…although this winter we’re leaning towards hot! It’s great to make on a busy weeknight. And it keeps well in the fridge for up to three days. All-in-all it makes for a warming (or chilled) and filling bowl of satisfying soup. We like ours with a bit of cheese toast alongside, which one can righteously enjoy when one has eliminated heavy whipping cream from the ingredients!

If you’ve never made vichyssoise because the name sounded “difficult,” you should really give it a try. What could be easier than throwing these few raw ingredients into a pot, cooking it for 40 minutes, pureeing it with a stick blender and stirring in some sour cream? You won’t be sorry.

Don’t need to worry about fat and calories? Then you can’t beat the original version of Julia Child’s vichyssoise here.

Lighter Vichyssoise or Creamed Leek and Potato Soup
Serves 6

4 cups sliced leeks, cleaned well, white and light green parts only (about 3-4 leeks)
1 3/4 lbs. raw yukon gold potatoes, cleaned, peeled and sliced
6 cups unsalted chicken broth
4 oz. water, plus a bit more for thinning, if needed
1/2 cup light sour cream, not fat free
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives (for garnish)
additional salt and pepper to taste

Place the leeks and potatoes in a large stock pot, add the broth, 1 teaspoon of salt and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook partially covered until the vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree with a stick blender until very smooth. Return the soup in the pot to low heat. Stir in the sour cream, black pepper and add any additional salt, to taste and heat through. If the soup is too thick for you, thin it with a bit more broth or water. Serve the soup hot or cold with fresh snipped chives sprinkled on top as a tasty garnish.



Rain Chaser: Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup

soup35 degrees F on Monday, 63 degrees F and torrential rains and flooding on Saturday. What a difference a week can make!

Time for something to chase away the damp dreariness of the day, and soup always makes me happy. One of my most favorite vegetable dishes, usually made during the holidays, is a potato, leek and fennel gratin. I made it this year for Christmas dinner, was going to share it with you and then promptly forgot to take the final photo before we devoured it! I can, however, point you to the recipe here, and trust me it is well worth the effort to make.

And because those flavors were still so fresh in my memory, and I happened to have lots of potatoes on hand, I decided to make the gratin into a soup. Much like a vichyssoise, this soup starts with the potato and leeks as its base, but has a mild anise flavor, a sweetness and richness from the addition of fennel. The three vegetables marry into something quite extraordinary, and a touch of cream adds a velvety and satisfying finish to the soup. I decided the best way to incorporate the parmesan from the gratin was in the form of a crouton floating on top and sprinkled with fennel fronds. Delicious soup, warm or cold.

There’s more rain in the forecast for Monday…maybe it’s time for a Raindog, too!

Not just for a rainy day, it's great for any day of the year!

Not just for a rainy day, it’s great for any day of the year!

Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup
Makes 6-8 portions

2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned well and diced (about 3 1/2 cups)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and sliced thinly, reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons of the fronds (leaves)
2 lbs. white potatoes, peeled and cubed (I used a mix of Yukon and Idaho, but red skinned are nice, too.)
8 cups chicken broth or stock, low or no sodium
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 baguette thinly sliced
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium low heat. Add the leeks and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, fennel, potatoes and 1 teaspoon of the salt, stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and allow the soup to cook until all of the vegetables are very tender, about 40 minutes.

While the soup cooks, arrange the sliced baguette on a cookie sheet and turn the oven onto broil. Lightly toast one side of the baguettes, watching carefully…do not burn! Remove the baguette slices from the oven, turn them over and sprinkle each one with some of the Parmesan cheese, dividing evenly. Return the pan to the broiler and toast until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside. Chop the fennel fronds and set aside.

When the vegetables in the soup are tender, remove it from the heat and blend it in the pot until it is very smooth using an immersion stick blender, or you can blend in a traditional blender in batches and return the soup to the pot. It’s hot, so be careful. Put the soup back on the stove on low heat, add the 1 cup of cream, 1 to 1 1/2 (to taste depending on how salty your broth was) additional teaspoons of salt and the black pepper, and stir until smooth. Heat until just heated through. Ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a crouton and a sprinkle of fennel fronds. Serve remaining croutons on the side. As stated previously, this soup is good served hot or cold and on rainy days or sunny days.

Julia’s Vichyssoise

This creamy, easy soup tastes like a dream. So elegant…so Julia.

Today would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday! In her honor and as part of the many celebrations going on today, I made another of her fabulous and easy dishes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This is perhaps one of the easiest soups of all to make…Vichyssoise, or cold leek and potato soup.

According to Julia, this is an American invention, made by taking a base Master recipe for leek and potato soup, making it with stock instead of water and adding cream, then chilling. It couldn’t be simpler to make and it is stunningly delicious. Here’s how I made it based on her recipe. Continue reading