Fall activities might be in full swing by now but the weather is still hot and humid in the Lowcountry and sometimes a cool meal is in order for supper. Vichyssoise, the cool and creamy French classic is one of my favorite soups when the weather is hot but I still want something with a little substance. I’m not a fan of baked potato soups but vichyssoise is something else entirely; it’s also not all that different from the Irish potato soup my grandpa passed down to my mom and I, with the exception that his was always served hot.
I make a huge shortcut in this soup by using store-bought juice instead of roasting and pureeing beets. This all occurred because I purchased a beet/purple carrot/purple sweet potato juice that I just could not bring myself to drink. It tasted great but not great for an actual drinking juice. Thus, I decided to make a soup out of it. I prepared a basic vichyssoise and tweaked it a little to suit the flavor of the juice. The result was bright, smooth and equally good served hot or cold. Cold is my preference but my hunny prefers his hot. Just a suggestion, really do try to use leeks instead of substituting with onion – the leeks produce a mellow flavor that onions don’t do justice.
2 T butter
2 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
1 c chopped leeks
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c no sodium added chicken stock
1 c water
1/2 c sauvignon blanc or other dry white wine
2 c Bolthouse Farms Daily Roots or equal amount of beet juice
1/2 c cream or half & half
20 leaves fresh tarragon, finely chopped
splash lemon juice
sea salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste (I didn’t use any but I’m sure some folks would want it)
ricotta or plain yogurt, for serving, if desired
In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add sliced potatoes and saute until soft and golden; add garlic and leeks, sauteing until translucent.
Add chicken stock and water and simmer for 20 minutes, reducing heat if necessary. Using the back of a fork, gently press on the potatoes so that they begin to break up.
Add wine and simmer for 15 more minutes. Then whisk in cream, pouring in a little bit a time. Stir in tarragon and whisk in splash lemon juice. Salt/pepper to taste.
Serve immediately or refrigerate overnight. Either way, serve with a dollop of ricotta or plain yogurt, if desired.
Along with a plate of Spanish manchego, yogurt cheese, charcuterie, raw almonds and grapes, this made for an excellent casually elegant meal. What makes this soup super outstanding is that it’s even better after one or two days.