The classic name for a pureed potato and leek soup is vichyssoise….but I thought if I put that in the title, I might scare some of you off! Why complicate an easy soup with a difficult title? This soup is made terrifically creamy by pureeing the cooked potatoes and leeks; the addition of asparagus lends beautiful color and excellent flavor. The added cream garnish is delightful, but completely optional. You won’t sacrifice texture if you omit it.
So, why such a crazy name? The origins of vichyssoise are somewhat unclear. Some consider it an American invention while others claim it has French roots. Louis Diat, a chef at the Ritz Carlton in New York City, is most often credited with popularizing it in America in the early 1900s, and he claims to have named it after the spa town of Vichy, close to his hometown in France.
No matter what you call it or who invented it, it’s delicious. And this version from Bon Appetit is particularly well suited to lunch on a hot summer’s day.
Chilled Asparagus Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit June 2009
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
1/2 cup – 1/2″ cubes peeled russet potato
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups – 1″ pieces trimmed asparagus
1/4 cup chilled whipping cream (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1. Melt butter in a large saucepan (with a lid) over medium heat. Add leek and potato and saute for 2 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add asparagus and simmer uncovered until asparagus is just tender, 5-6 minutes (less if you are using very thin stalks). Remove the pan from heat. Transfer 8 asparagus tips to a bowl to save for garnish.
2. Puree soup until smooth with an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide soup among 4 shallow bowls. Place in freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to chill quickly.
3. If using the cream, whisk cream, mint, and a large pinch of salt in a small bowl until cream is slightly thickened.
4. Drizzle mint cream, or sprinkle mint, over soup and then garnish with asparagus tips.