Vichyssoise is a fancy name for a potato and leek soup that can be served either hot or cold. Not one to leave well enough alone, I started adding seafood to it a couple years ago. It soon became known as Fishyssoise in our household.
Miriam has been having trouble with her jaw and has been put on a soft food diet. Pureed potato soup seems just the thing. Normally I leave the seafood in this dish in bite sized pieces, but today I may mince them a bit. That way Miriam can eat them without chewing.
My recipe is adapted from Joy of Cooking. My mother, Claudia, always had this cookbook on hand and this is the first cookbook I bought when I left home. If you have only one cookbook, this is the one to get. I would recommend finding an older edition. This is not that the new editions have anything wrong with them, but in adding many new Asian recipes they have chosen to eliminate some traditional American cuisine. Yes, I may never have the opportunity to cook an opossum or a squirrel, but it is nice to know that I have at least one recipe available if I ever do.
Proper vichyssoise is made only with the white parts of the leek. This allows you to get a very attractive, white soup. My problem has always been what do you do with the green parts? It would be a waste to just throw them away. I have always simply used the entire leek, but this causes my soups to have a very green cast. This does not bother me, or my family, it is just a fact of cooking economy. In the debate of appearance vs. taste, taste always wins in my cooking. Of course, if it both looks and tastes delightful that is the best, the balance of feeding both the soul and the body.
Sitting here writing this, I have just had a thought. A second problem I have is that Chris, Miriam’s husband, is on a keto diet and he will not eat this soup because it has starchy potatoes in it. I will use the green parts of the leeks to make a second vegetable dish for him that fits within his diet restrictions.
¼ lb. white fish
¼ lb. scallops
¼ lb. shrimp
2 Tbs. butter
1 onion, chopped
3 leeks, white parts only, chopped
2 large Russet potato, diced
1 can chicken broth, low sodium
½ tsp. white pepper (to taste)
¼ tsp. salt (to taste)
¼ tsp. mace (optional)
1/4 cup cream
2 Tbs. chives
1. Put two cups of water in a small pot and bring it to a boil. Add the fish and cook it for two minutes. Remove and cool in a bowl.
Tip: you are not trying to cook the seafood completely. This is just to set the juices that might make foam in your soup later and to create the fish stock.
2. Add the scallops to the pot and cook for two minutes. Remove and cool in the bowl with the fish.
3. Add the shrimp to the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Remove and cool. Peel the shrimp and return the shells to the pot.
4. Continue boiling the shrimp shells for ten minutes. Strain the broth and reserve.
5. Devein the shrimp and chop the seafood coarsely, reserve in the refrigerator until needed.
6. Prep the vegetables. Trim and chop the onion and leeks. Peel and dice the potatoes.
Tip: If you wish, you may use the entire leek. Also, if you like a rustic soup, you may leave the peel on the potato.
7. In a large soup pot, melt the butter and sauté the onions over medium heat until translucent.
Tip: You do not want your onions to brown for this dish.
8. Add the leeks and continue cooking until the leeks are soft.
9. Add the fish stock, chicken broth and potatoes to the pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes.
Tip: I have tried many different types of potatoes in this dish. I find that the Russets work best, because they are already starting to break apart when you are ready to blend them. Also the waxier potatoes (like red and white) get a bit gluey if you blend them too much.
10. When the potatoes are starting to break apart, blend the soup.
Tip: For a smooth soup use a standing blender and process the mixture in batches. I prefer to use an immersion blender and only partially process the soup. The remaining chunks of potato and leeks give the soup a more interesting texture.
11. If necessary return the soup to the pot. Add the seafood, pepper, salt, and mace (optional). Heat the soup for five to ten minutes more to finish cooking the fish and meld the flavors.
Tip: The mace is optional. Also, if you do not have mace on hand, a grating of fresh nutmeg is nice.
12. Stir in the cream and serve garnished with the chives.
Tip: I add very little cream to my soup, because of Jan’s dietary restrictions. People without this restriction may choose to eliminate the chicken broth and replace it with cream. If you do this, do not let the soup come to a boil after adding the cream.