Vichyssoise is a fancy name for a potato and leek soup that can be served either hot or cold. In my opinion it is not a meal in itself. I first started by adding seafood to the mix, but this time I decided to add some vitamin packed leafy greens to the pale green vegetables that were already in the dish.
While I like a smooth pureed soup, the lack of texture leaves something to be desired. Over time, I have developed the technique of using two pots for making this dish. In pot one I make the vishyssoise soup base and in the second pot I cook the bits that will make up the chunky contrast to the pureed soup.
Note: While this two pot method requires more cleanup, it is the best way to get the two parts of the soup to cook completely. In the past, I have tried to cook the seafood in the blended soup and it is very messy, because it splatters thick hot soup all over the place.
Pot one—the soup base
2 Tbs. butter
½ yellow onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 leek, white part only, chopped
1 large Russet potato, peeled and diced
32 oz. chicken bone broth, low sodium, separate uses
1 Tbs. Better then Bouillon, chicken low sodium
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. thyme
Pot two—the chunky bits
1 Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced
½ lb. scallops
4 oz. spinach, frozen
¼ cup cream
¼ tsp. white pepper (to taste)
¼ tsp. mace (optional)
6-7 slices of baguette
1 tsp. butter
2 Tbs. parsley
1. Prep all of the vegetables.
Tip: Trim and slice the onion, celery, leek, and garlic. Peel and dice the potatoes into ½ inch cubes—keep the Russet and Yukon potatoes bits separate. Defrost and squeeze the excess moisture out of the spinach.
Note: Except for the Yukon Gold potato, the size of your vegetable dice is unimportant—as most of them will be pureed. If you wish, you may use the entire leek. Also, if you like a rustic soup, you may leave the peel on the potato.
2. In a large soup pot, melt the butter and sauté the onions and celery over medium heat until translucent.
Tip: You do not want your onions to brown for this dish.
3. Add the leeks and continue cooking until the leeks are soft, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add about a third of the chicken broth, the bouillon paste, bay leaf, thyme, and the diced Russet potatoes potatoes to the pot and bring it to a boil.
5. 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.
6. Put about a third of the chicken broth in a second smaller pot and add the diced Yukon Gold potato.
7. Bring the second pot to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
8. Add the scallops—and any scallop liquid—and the spinach to the second pot and continue simmering for 5 minutes.
9. Remove the second pot from the heat so that the scallops do not overcook.
10. When the Russet potatoes in the big pot 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. Return the pureed soup to the pot.
Tip: Use the remaining broth to rinse out the blender jar and add it to the big pot.
Note: Simmer the blended soup until it starts to thicken, another 5-10 minutes.
12. Add the contents of the small pot, the pepper, and mace (optional).
13. 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.
Note: I used Better then Bouillon which is very salty. If you did not use this bouillon paste, taste the soup and decided if you need to add salt.
14. While the soup is finishing cooking, toast the slices of baguette.
15. Spread a little butter over each hot slice and then sprinkle them with thyme.
16. Cut the slices into ½ inch cubes.
17. Stir in the cream and serve garnished with croutons and the parsley.
Tip: I add very little cream to my soup, because of Jan’s dietary restrictions. People without this restriction may choose to replace some of the chicken broth with cream. If you do this, do not let the soup come to a boil after adding the cream.