Leek, Potato and Jerusalem Artichoke soup
I have a confession to make. This ‘so called’ gourmet and experienced cook burnt down her kitchen last week.
Ok, maybe that’s being a little melodramatic. There was a fire, however, and it did destroy half of my kitchen (and its acrid smoke probably put paid to a large percentage of my lung capacity too).
I won’t go into the details. I’m just hoping the incident can be put down to my general overly ambitious multi-tasking and the fact that I spend most of my time in the kitchen, therefore increasing the odds that I would, one day, set fire to it (naturally).
That being said, a trifling little fire and the absence of a functioning hob and oven are hardly going to stop me from cooking (despite the fact that the whole incident may have been some kind of ‘sign’).
So I’ve hopped right back into the saddle. Thankfully, my first post-fire dish – my version of Vichyssoise – went off without a hitch (i.e. it did not go up in smoke).
So why Vichyssoise for my ‘resurrection’ dish?
Well, it’s no secret that I’m a bit of a Francophile (it’s hard not to be when your life revolves around food and wine!) and I wanted to honour Bastille Day (on 14 July) by whipping up a French inspired dish.
However, without an oven or stove top it was going to be a little challenging to create one of my favourite Gallic dishes, such as duck a l’orange or cheese soufflé, for example.
I do, however, possess a sparkly new Thermomix (not to brag or anything…ok, I’m totally bragging).
For those who don’t know, the Thermomix is an awesome piece of German engineering, which consolidates heaps of different kitchen appliances into one (e.g. it blends, cooks, chops, crushes, emulsifies, beats, mixes, steams, grinds, mills, grates, weighs etc…).
Yes, the ‘Thermie’ is a culinary marvel. However, it can’t always be used in place of an oven or hot plate/grill (as in the case of the abovementioned classic French dishes). It is, however, perfect for creating Vichyssoise (but don’t fear, my recipe below has been adapted for the old ‘ol stove top – possession of a Thermomix is not required!).
This thick, creamy soup is traditionally made from leeks and potatoes; however – because I’m a contrary cook who couldn’t stick to a ‘standard’ recipe if her kitchen depended on it (I think that fact has been firmly established) – a little seasonal Jerusalem artichoke has also (strategically) made its way to this comforting mix.
I realise, with the addition of this rather piquant ingredient, it might be a stretch to call this dish a Vichyssoise (and no doubt this would also put many a French nose out of joint – je suis désolée), but let’s just go with it, shall we?
Bon 14 juillet!
¼ cup (50g) unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
3 medium (400g) Desiree potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
3 Jerusalem artichokes (200g), peeled and cut into small cubes
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups (500ml) water
2 cups (500ml) good quality chicken stock
2/3 cup (150g) crème fraiche
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Chives, finely chopped (optional)
Crusty bread to serve
- Melt the butter in a heavy based pan over a low heat. When the butter starts to foam, add the garlic and leeks and cook for 3 minutes until translucent (do not allow them to colour).
- Add the potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes and cook gently for another 5 minutes.
- Add the thyme, bay leaf, water and stock. Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potato and Jerusalem artichokes are tender.
- Remove the thyme and bay leaf.
- Puree the soup in a blender until smooth.
- Add the crème fraiche, nutmeg, lots of salt and fresh cracked pepper; then blend again until combined.
- Adjust seasoning to taste, then serve warm or refrigerate until cold.
- To serve, divide among bowls and scatter with chopped chives (if using) and fresh cracked pepper.
- Devour (warm or cold) with lots of crusty bread (and an extra dollop of crème fraiche if you feel like being a little more decadent).
Wine Match: A French white such as Vouvray (Chenin Blanc), Burgundy (Chardonnay) or Champers!
Allergens: Contains dairy.
The Change Up: Inspired by a recipe by local star chef, David Pugh (from Restaurant II), I also sometimes like to add fennel and pork sausages to this soup to transform it into a hearty main meal.
If you are watching the calories, fat content or are intolerant to dairy, the crème fraiche can be omitted.
If Jerusalem artichokes are out of season or you are having trouble coming by them, simply replace them with the same amount of potato for a classic Vichyssoise; or experiment with other root vegetables such as parsnip or celeriac.
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