France—Vichyssoise

 

French Sidevichyoisse soup

Potato  & Leek Soup
Vichyssoise
(Serves 6-8)

Vichyssoise (vishy-swaz), the creme de la creme of French soups. Rich, creamy potato and leek soup—served chilled.


4 T butter
3 large leeks (white parts only, sliced)
1/3 C onion (chopped)
4 C potatoes (peeled and sliced)
1 C water
1 qt. chicken broth
1-2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 to 1 1/2 C heavy cream *
2 T fresh chives (diced)

Prepare: in a soup pot, sauté leeks and onion till soft. Add potatoes, water, broth, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer till potatoes are soft and crumbly. Let cool slightly, then puree in a blender. Cover and chill.

Serve: when ready to serve stir in cream, adjust seasoning and garnish with chives. Serve as a first course, or as a luncheon with a salad and a loaf of crusty French bread.

* You can use light cream or half-and-half instead of heavy cream. It's not quite as rich but it helps to reduce the fat load.

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Tips & Glossary

Bouquet Garni: (boo-kay gar-nee) bundle of herbs tied together with string or wrapped in cheese cloth square; usually parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Flavor is released during long cooking.Remove before serving.

Chervil: (sher-vil) related to parsley but has a delicate anise flavor. Long cooking kills flavor, so add at the last minute.

Cornichon (kor-nee-shon) teeny-tiny pickle, served with pates & smoked meats; found in specialty food stores.

Fines Herbes: (feen-airb) mix of finely chopped herbs: parsley, chives, tarragon, & chervil. Not as strong as a bouqet garni. Buy it at most grocery stores.

Fromage: (fra-mahj) Cheese! The French eat more than any nationality, 45 pounds per capita per year; and the country makes more cheeses than any other country, about 400.

The three great pedigreed French cheeses are:
• Brie (East of Paris)
• Camembert (Normandy)
• Roquefort (Southwest France, from sheep’s milk)

There are also wonderful lesser-known cheeses:
• Beaufort (Rhone Alps, hard, yellow Gruyere-type)
• Chevre (Loire Valley, soft, goat’s milk)
• Comte (Alps region, hard, yellow Gruyere-type)
• Emmental (Alps region, “Swiss” cheese with holes)
• Gruyere (hard, yellow cheese—originally French, now most is Swiss)
• Tomme (means “cheese”; soft, many varieties, all from skim milk)

Herbes de Provence (airb-duh-pro-vonce): mix of dried herbs, usually thyme, rosemary, marjoram, basil, & bay leaf Can be found at most grocery stores.

Mutarde: (moo-tard), mustard. Most famous:
• Dijon ( from the town in Burgundy)
• Meaux (from Meaux, east of Paris; whole-grained; made by Pommery).

Nicoise Olive: (nee-swaz- oh-leev) small, purplish-black olive with a mellow, nutty flavor; used primarily in Salade Nicoise. The Picholine variety is a green, medium-sized olive with a light, nutty flavor.

Roux: (roo) paste-like mix of melted butter and flour, into which liquid is gradually added. The basis of every classic French sauce.
Basic Roux: 1 part butter to 1 part flour. Melt butter and add flour, stirring vigorously, till it becomes a paste-like consistency. At this point, add slowly whatever liquid your recipe calls for

 

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