Sunday, July 19, 2009

A bowl of elegance: Zucchini Vichyssoise

One of the (many) things I love about French food is the elegance of it. It never hits you over the head or overwhelms your palate. Instead, it has this subtle, beautiful way of impressing you. It is like a good Bordeaux: restrained, yet complex; balanced, yet intriguing. This Vichyssoise is the perfect example. Each element of the soup enhanced the others, creating a wonderful balance of flavor. This would make a great first course, warm or cold.

Here's how I made it:

First things first: Mis en place

The vegetables:


To make the soup, heat the butter and oil

Add the leeks, and saute for 5 minutes

Add the potatoes, zucchini, stock, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Let it cool for a few minutes, and then use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

Stir in the milk and season with salt and pepper (to taste). I ended up needing to add quite a bit.

Garnish with julienned zucchini and serve.

Throw in a mixed greens salad, multi grain toast, and a Chilean red-blend and you have quite a dinner on your hands.

Zucchini Vichyssoise (adapted from Barefoot in Paris)
Serves 5-6

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (4-8 leeks)
4 cups chopped unpeeled white boiling potatoes (I used a bag of TJ's white creamer potatoes)
3 cups chopped zucchini (2-3 zucchinis)
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons whole milk
Julienned zucchini for garnish

Heat the butter and oil in a large stock pot, add the leeks, and saute over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, zucchini, chicken stock, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool for a few minutes and then process with an immersion blender. Add the milk and season to taste (be sure to add lots of seasoning, because the original amounts are not enough). Serve either hot or cold, garnished with zucchini.

Notes: I think that you could also add some freshly grated nutmeg when you add the milk to enhance and round out the flavor. I also think you could garnish it with just about anything: Gruyere or Parmesan, herbed croutons, fresh parsley, freshly grated nutmeg, chopped pecans, and the list could go on.

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