A chilled leek and potato soup, often tinned, always excessively creamy, featured on virtually every summer menu in mid-1970s Soho, but its origins go back much further.
I wasn’t aware of the seasonal nature of leeks on the morning of my first day as a professional chef, when this soup was the first dish, on the first menu, of my short career. A shopping expedition to Berwick Street market produced no leeks and considerable panic. A phone call to my mother put me straight on the stupidity of using leeks in summer, but she did suggest that I try spring onions instead. Another sortie, this time to Chinatown, resulted in me finding enormous green spring onions and these were what I used to make the Vichyssoise. Leeks are in the shops all year round these days, but I suggest you avoid them in summer as they have woody cores and a sour taste. All vegetables have natural seasons which cooks ignore at their peril.
Melt the butter in a reliable saucepan over a low heat. Add the spring onions or leeks and sweat for 2 or 3 minutes. Season moderately with salt, pepper and
Traditionally this soup is sipped from rather elegant cups known, oddly enough, as soup-cups. I see nothing wrong with this but please remember to sprinkle the top of the soup with finely snipped chives.
© 1999 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.