Despite the fact that I am drinking a hot Starbucks coffee, I can’t bring myself to think about soup (even if it is Sunday and happens to be my favorite food). Yesterday the temperature in Houston was 104 and felt like 113. And as crazy as it may sound, I am loving the hot weather. Either I am suffering from having lived in a cold damp climate for too long or I am delusional from the heatwave. Either way, a bowl of steaming soup is still out of the question.
This morning, inspired by a carton of buttermilk, I went in search of a cold soup recipe. This version of vichyssoise fit the bill: cold, simple yet complex and easy. Garnishes with chives or smoked salmon for a perfectly pretty and tasty meal.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 leek, white and light-green parts only, cleaned, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 white potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 1/2 cups chicken stock 1 cup chopped fennel bulb plus one handful of fronds, chopped
2 cups buttermilk
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
Smoked salmon for garnish (optional)
Melt butter in a stockpot over medium-low heat. Add leek, season with salt, and cook, covered, until tender, about 15 minutes.
Add potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in fennel (bulb and fronds) and cook for about 5-7 more minutes.
Working in batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth. Transfer puréed soup to a large bowl.
Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Stir in sour cream and buttermilk just before serving. Adjust seasoning as needed. If necessary, thin the soup with a bit more chicken stock to achieve desired consistency. Refridgerate until cold. Garnish with smoked salmon.
Photo by James Ransom