My dad always fancied himself a phenomenal cook. He had what I would call a passing interest in food, but in comparison with the rest of his family (before I came along) he was the Jackson family food expert. Each summer his mother, my Nam (sounds like Pam) would throw a picnic for the Jackson clan. Aunts and Uncles, cousins and friends gathered for fried chicken, deviled eggs and chocolate meringue pie in the backyard of Nam and Papa’s house in the Green Hills neighborhood of Nashville, TN. Every summer my dad would spend what seemed like hours in the kitchen preparing his “famous” vichyssoise.
Now, as a child, nothing sounded worse to me than a cold potato soup. “What the heck is even a leek? No thank you, not interested, please pass the chicken”. Even as my interest in food sprouted and grew, I stayed steer clear of that cold mashed potato soup thing my dad made. One day, and not even a day that I can clearly recall, I caved and sampled the rich and creamy yet still refreshing classic we know as vichyssoise. Boy, had I been wrong.
Vichyssoise remains a summer fixture in this particular Jackson’s life. I’ve made it a point to source it every year for I’d say the past decade, always between Memorial Day and 4th of July, prime vichyssoise season of course. I lost my dad last year and was inspired to try my hand at what my Uncle Dave calls “one of his [my dad] better standard dishes”. We laughed today when I told him how quick and simple it was. Dad always congratulated himself on the difficulty of perfecting the classic soup. I suppose in a day without Vitamix blenders, pushing the potato and leek mixture through a fine mesh strainer might have been a chore, but today it couldn’t be easier.
While slicing the potatoes and leeks and combining them with the 4 other ingredients the dish calls for I am reminded of those simple happy summers with my Dad and family. Happy summer to you and yours from the new Jackson family food expert.
- 4 Tbsp Butter
- 3 Large Leeks, chopped and rinsed
- 5 Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 Medium Onion, chopped
- 5 c Chicken Stock
- 1/2 c Cream
- Salt, to taste
- Melt butter over medium low heat in a stockpot
- Add leeks, onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook through without browning, about 15-20 minutes
- Add potatoes and chicken stock and simmer until potatoes are cooked through
- Add mixture (including stock) to blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove any vegetable chunks.
- Return puree to the stock pot and add 1/2 c cream and additional salt. Be sure to slightly over salt as the mixture will become less salty as it chills
- Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.
- Serve chilled with a chive garnish.