There was an icy chilled pewter cup on a silver tray, beaded with condensation, and a cream colored lace dress. A gold hair clip, a dimly lit restaurant, a soup spoon with a perfectly round bowl, crisp, delicate chives, faint piano music, and my first word in French: Vichyssoise. It was decided by the adults that I would like this, and I did. Cold soup? Astounding. But there it was in front of me, in this distant, foreign land known as Houston. My first gourmet restaurant experience.
Since that first order, Vichyssoise has always had a special place in my food memories. But as sublimely fancy as I perceived Vichyssoise, the ingredients (potatoes, leeks and chicken stock) are about as down home as, well, chicken soup.
As the adult food weirdo that I have become, I realize Vichyssoise is a result of the exchange of food crops between Europe and the New World. Potatoes, native to Peru, became the most common food of the French people once they were cultivated in France. Like gazpacho, Vichyssoise is a chilled summer soup that was created with the least expensive, most available ingredients on the farm.
Even though it is a signature French recipe, I can’t help raising my hand to remind the crowd that Peru is the reason this chilled soup exists. Potatoes are a signature ingredient of the Americas.
Just for fun, I thought we could pull this soup back across the ocean, and return it to its American roots. In this version of Vichyssoise, I added roasted chile Poblano, another signature American ingredient. The result was not too spicy, perfectly harmonious flavors, and a darn satisfying cold dish.
Poblano Vichyssoise is a keeper recipe, and one I will make again this summer. And I know with each sip, I’ll be reliving that moment in the dimly lit French restaurant, gold hair clip, lace dress and a tiny under-developed foodie mind, preparing for lift-off in Houston.Print
2 chile poblano roasted, peeled and seeded
5 cups chicken stock (1.2lt)
4 cups peeled chopped potatoes( 350 gr)
3 leeks, tough green leaves cut away
1 cup heavy cream (240ml)
Salt to taste*
To roast the chiles, first rinse them in water, then place on a gas burner, or underneath the heated broiler in your stove. Allow the chiles to blister and blacken. Remove the chiles from the heat, wrap in a clean towel and then place in a plastic or paper bag so that they sweat for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the bag and towel, scrape away the roasted skin, and remove the top and seeds. Rinse briefly to remove any excess skin or seeds. Chop and set aside.
Pour the chicken stock in to a 3 qt. saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add the chopped potatoes and leeks, and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Ladle the cooked potatoes, leeks and chicken stock into the container of a blender.* Blend until smooth. Add the chiles, cream and salt to taste. Blend again briefly.
Pour into a covered container and chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Overnight is best.
*You may need to add a bit more salt once your Poblano Vichyssoise is completely chilled. Cold foods always need stronger flavors, as their temperature can be a bit palate numbing.
Also, don’t pour the boiled ingredients into the blender. Leeks can be sandy, and hidden sand will boil out when they are cooked. If you ladle the ingredients into a blender, you can avoid the stray grain of sand that may be at the bottom of your soup pot.
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