“Vichyssoise, named after the French town of Vichy (pronounced Vee-shee), is a thick soup made of pureed leeks, potatoes, onions, cream, and chicken stock.”

We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of a massive cold front here in SGPS. The high here was 80 degrees which, for the day before Thanksgiving, is absolutely ridiculous to me. I have celebrated Thanksgivings in northern Great Lakes State with feet of snow on the ground and we would drag our Christmas tree home that weekend. The cold front still has not arrived, but I made my soup anyway. I had a leek leftover from a casserole I made two weeks ago and didn’t want it to go to waste, so I did some research on potato-leek soup.

Potato-leek soup is also called vichyssoise and is traditionally served cold. Even though it has a French-sounding name, a chef at the Ritz-Carlton in NYC is credited with its creation. I have only had one chilled soup before in my life- a gazpacho at a wedding in San Diego that was divine- and I figured today was not going to be the day for a cold soup. After researching, I decided that instead of using someone else’s recipe, I wanted to try my hand at recipe writing. This is what I came up with.

Agatha’s Potato-Leek Soup

Three slices center cut bacon, diced                                                                                                     One pat unsalted butter                                                                                                                     One leek, white and pale green parts only, cleaned                                                                    One russet potato, peeled and diced small                                                                                          One small shallot, minced
One garlic clove, minced                                                                                                                  One cup chicken broth                                                                                                                     Two cups half and half, warmed                                                                                                          Salt and Pepper                                                                                                                                     Dash Tabasco sauce

1. Heat a medium pot over medium and add bacon. Cook until brown and drain on paper towels, leaving the drippings in the pot.

2. Melt the butter in with the bacon drippings. Adds the leek, shallot, and garlic and saute over medium heat until soft and they begin to brown.

3. Add potato, chicken stock, and half and half. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until potatoes are soft and begin to break down. While the soup simmers, set a fine sieve on top of a large bowl.

4. Once the potatoes are softened, take soup off heat. Transfer soup, ladle by ladle, to the sieve. Using your stirring spoon or a rubber spatula, press the potato/leek mixture through the sieve. The liquid will drain on its own, and there will be some of the mixture that will not make it through the sieve. There will be potato sticking to the outside of the sieve, so make sure you scrape that off.

5. When the soup mixture has been pressed through the sieve, return the liquid mixture to the pot to simmer on the stove until you are ready to eat it. Season it with salt and pepper to your taste, and add a dash of Tabasco. Serve it hot with a little olive oil and the cooked bacon on top.

This was a really, really delicious soup. After the first two mouthfuls, I had to get up and get a bigger spoon because I was shoveling it in so fast. Unfortunately, the cold front had not come through by dinner time, but I was okay with being a little warm.

Step four was kind of hard to do by hand. I know that people will use food mills instead of pressing it through a sieve by hand or use an immersion blender to just puree it all together, and those are two kitchen gadgets that I am currently coveting (a food processor above those two, of course). Some recipes I read did not have a puree step, but I really liked the smooth texture of the soup once I put it through the sieve. Martha Stewart even had a recipe that used already mashed potatoes instead of uncooked diced potatoes, and that seemed really convenient. Looking back on it, I would have definitely made more bacon and made it more of an essential ingredient instead of a garnish, but bacon is not a traditional vichyssoise ingredient. The SO really liked the soup, so I guess that’s all that matters!

This will be the first of quite a few Thanksgiving entries as I have the extra time to cook and I imagine this weekend will be an orgy of cooking and blogging. I am pretty tired since I made a pumpkin pie (which I will feature) and the soup today, but I’d rather cook than do nothing!

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