This site has been dormant long enough and although I still can hardly find the time for it, I’ve decided to revive it, especially after receiving several messages on Vegan Romania on Facebook to post new recipes. Few of you probably know that I relocated from Germany to Greece, on the stunningly beautiful island of Crete, the country’s largest by all accounts.
The move limits my choice of ingredients but also opens new horizons, as I now can exclusively cook with local, organic produce, and fragrant herbs – which abound on the island. But today’s recipe is a personal take on a traditional classic, namely, the potato and leek soup (aka Vichyssoise). I am not particularly fond of thyme, but in this soup, it works, so I have that ready. It’s nice and fresh, a plant a grow on the balcony. All other products I am using come from the local farm market (and they have plenty of those on Crete). One thing is for sure: nothing quite compares to Cretan potatoes from Lassithi. I’ll be using two large potatoes and one leek because I am making a small quantity of soup – just for two persons and for a couple of days. If you want to make more, just double the ingredients mentioned here. Also, because on Crete they seem to put lemon on and in about everything, have a half ready to season the soup after it’s creamed.
To save time, the soup cooks while I type. I imagine, but the time I finish this post, it will be ready to plate. Under normal circumstances, at this stage, you shouldn’t cook the soup longer than 25 minutes (or until the potatoes are boiled). And this is what I like about cooking soups: most of them require little effort and cook fast. They are also very healthy. If you wonder what are the health benefits of eating soup, this article is an eye-opener.
Perhaps I should mention that soups are not a usual occurrence in the Cretan diet although many people seem to like them occasionally. In Romania, where I come from, the soup is a daily dish. Here, you can expect it once in a blue moon. But I was raised to love soup, and I will cook them for my family, because, in the words of Beethoven:
Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.
And, believe it or not, potatoes are good for you if you don’t soak them in fat. They have more potassium than a banana, they are a great source of vitamin C, they only have 110 calories per portion, they are rich in vitamin B6, and they are fat, sodium, and cholesterol-free. If you cook them right, they make a great dining table staple. The potato and leek combination is a match made in heaven. Here are some of the health benefits of leeks (best consumed raw).
Because I NEVER use stock when I cook my soups, you will notice that besides the main three ingredients found in traditional recipes, potato, celery, and leek, I am also adding carrot and garlic. But if you use vegan or chicken stock, you don’t need to complicate your life.
Cream of Potato Leek Soup Recipe
Before we start, believe me, although I added the word “optional” next to some ingredients, if you use them, your soup will taste so much better than the original Vichyssoise.
- 2 large potatoes, skinned and cubed
- 1 leek, sliced into thin rings
- 1 carrot, sliced into thin rings (optional)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled (optional)
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- fresh sprig of thyme
- 150 ml. coconut milk
- lemon juice from half a lemon (optional)
- 1 tsp. olive oil (optional)
- freshly chopped parsley to decorate (optional)
- Boil all ingredients (with the exception of olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, and coconut milk) in plenty of water until the potatoes are soft (usually no more than 25 minutes).
- Remove the bay leaf and the sprig of thyme and puree the soup until creamy smooth with an immersion blender (my favorite method) or in a food processor.
- Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Continue simmering until the soup has thickened (about 15 minutes, or more, depending how much water you used to start with). Ideally, strain through a colander, then add the stock as you puree the soup until you reach the desired consistency.
- When the soup is ready, plate, decorate, and season with olive oil and lemon juice to give it a bit of "zing."
Whether you eat it with olive oil and lemon juice or just as is, the cream of potato leek soup is always a tummy pleaser. The French original, known as Vichyssoise, was probably invented in New York City at the Ritz Carlton in 1917 by Chef Louis Diat. The chef apparently adapted a traditional potato and leek recipe from his hometown, Vichy. Which still makes the soup French, rather than an American creation. Wherever it comes from, the potato leek soup is just awesome. It’s such a delicious soup, and, as you see, with coconut milk replacing heavy cream, you can make it vegan, perfect for fasting before Lent, as it includes NO animal fat whatsoever.
Do yourself a favor a cook with water rather than stock to enjoy the pure flavors of the ingredients. What I really love about this soup is that you can eat it cold or hot, depending on the season. I like it hot when the weather outside is rainy.
When it’s ready, you can plate and decorate as you see fit. In this, I used a teaspoon of sesame seeds, olive oil, some lemon juice, spring onion and parsley. But make this your own and let me know how it all worked out!