In Memphis, in the summer (and the spring and the fall), it is hot. Devil-hot. Over 100 degrees most days with high, high humidity. When you open the door first thing in the morning, it’s like walking into a wall of cotton candy. Hot, thick air that surrounds you. Many, many days, busy days when you’re out and about, its just to hot to consider cranking up the oven or standing over a hot stove. I love to have a cold soup in the fridge to enjoy for dinner.
It has always surprised me that there is a real lack of cold soup on local menus and at prepared food stores. I remember a hot August day some years ago, I stopped by a place that offered a selection of pre-made dishes to take home. It was 100 and blank degrees outside and so humid my lipstick melted off, and the soups on offer were chili and French onion. Really?
My mom is a big cold soup fan. She makes it herself, but also keeps a can of prepared vichyssoise in the fridge. She used to keep jellied consommé, which I always thought was disgusting. Meat Jell-o. But she was right on the mark with cold soups during the hot months. As things heat up here, I am sure a few cold soup recipes will pop up in my repertoire.
I’ll admit, there’s nothing new or exciting or revolutionary about this recipe. It’s just the way I make the most classic of the cold soups. It’s elegant enough to serve to company, but keeps in the fridge for several days to provide no-work lunch and dinner options during the hot-hot days.
Cold Potato and Leek Soup
2 pounds leeks (about three medium), sliced to yield about 4 cups
2 Tablespoons butter
12 ounces white potatoes, about 2 medium, peeled
2 cups water
4 cups (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
Chopped chives to garnish
Slice the white and lightest green parts of the leeks into halves lengthwise, then into thin half moons. Place the leek slices in a strainer submerged in a bowl of water and shake around a bit to loosen any dirt. Let the leeks sit for a few minutes while you melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Remove the strainer and shake out excess water. Drop the leeks into the pot and stir. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Do no let the leeks brown. While the leeks are softening, chop the peeled potatoes into small chunks. Add to the cooked leeks with the water, broth and a good sprinkling of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium – low, cover and simmer for 25 – 30 minutes until the potatoes and leeks are very soft. Remove the pot from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender, filling the blender about half-full each time. Be very careful as the hot liquid can make the top pop off. Remove the center cap and hold the top with a dish towel. Pour each pureed batch into a bowl. When all the soup is pureed, whisk in the cream. Cover the bowl loosely and refrigerate for at least two hours but preferably overnight. Taste for salt and season before serving, garnished with chopped chives.
Serves 6 – 8
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