As one of the most influential cooks in America, Julia Child has touched the hearts, souls and tummies of many a cook and connoisseur of eating for decades – even now, years after she has passed. Today would mark her 100th birthday, if she were alive and to mark the occasion, we have made one of her recipes; one that we have never eaten in our house before so it was really thrilling!
Shortly before the movie, Julie & Julia came out, my husband was sent off to Korea for some time for work, and he requested a book that he could read while he was there so I picked up a copy of Julia Child’s book “My Life in France,” since it was on sale (I wasn’t even aware of the movie at that point and had heard nothing about it) and my husband had expressed interest in reading more about Julia Child in general.
A couple of years later, after we had moved here to England, someone suggested that I would enjoy the movie “Julie & Julia” since it was about Julia Child so my husband and I purchased a copy of it and settled down to watch it.
He suddenly became very excited at seeing the street her house was on and all the things that he had read about “come to life” in the movie. We made a great dinner that night complete with a starter, main and dessert so it really felt like we did our little movie night up right! We were both very content with our meal and enjoyed watching a great movie together. After that, I told him that I was moving my wish of having a copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” up further on my wishlist of cookbooks and kitchen things (our anniversary was coming up,… it couldn’t have been timed any better!).
While he still hasn’t managed to get me a copy of it, I have perused many original recipes from it that have been circulating online and vowing to make these seemingly to-die-for dishes “soon” and what better day than to mark her 100th birthday??
Being August however with no A/C or a breeze to speak of and temperatures in the mid 80s we chose to chill her recipe of a French classic, vichyssoise. Or simply, a soup with leeks and potatoes.
Let me be the first to tell you how amazing this soup is! It is incredibly versatile so you can keep it chunky, thin it out, enrich it with cream, etc – there are so many possibilities! We had it as a side with a summer pasta dish at room temperature and it was perfect. Nothing could be heard in the dining room but spoons hitting the bottom of the bowls and satisfying slurping all around! None of us can wait to have this for lunch tomorrow with all sorts of other toppings than the creme fraiche, bacon and chives that we chose to go with tonight.
I have been making a point of getting out my cookbooks and making more and more recipes from each, since I seem to be collecting them faster than I am actually utilizing them and jotting down even more recipes from places online on a weekly basis so it was great to make one of many of Julia’s recipes that I have ear-marked and been wanting to make.
My only regret is not having the opportunity to also make her chocolate mousse, as it would have been a perfect end to this light but fulfilling summer meal!
Julia Child’s Vichyssoise Recipe, from The Way To Cook
Yield: 6-8 servings, about 2 1/2 quarts *I made a few changes to her recipe to draw out some more flavor from each ingredient*
“Here is the mother of the family in all her simplicity. You’ll note there’s no chicken stock here, just water, leeks, potatoes, and salt in the soup base. However, you may include chicken stock if you wish, and you may certainly include milk. A bit of cream at the end is a nourishing touch, but by no means necessary.” — Julia Child from The Way to Cook , Alfred A. Knopf.
Note: If you are not puréeing the soup, cut the vegetables rather neatly.
• 4 cups sliced leeks, white part only
• 4 cups diced potatoes, old or baking potatoes recommended
• 6 to 7 cups water (I went with 1 C dry white wine and 5 C of chicken stock)
• 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
• 1/2 cup or more sour cream, heavy cream, or crème fraîche, optional
• 1 Tablespoon fresh chives or parsley, minced
First, heat a 6 qt stock pot and saute the leeks in 1 TBS of bacon fat or olive oil until soft and fragrant.
Then add the potatoes, white wine & chicken stock (or water, depending on how you would like to make your soup). Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer, cooking until the potatoes are soft. Over boiling the potatoes is perfectly fine if you are planning to blend your soup smooth.
Once the potatoes are soft enough, use an immersion blender or transfer the soup in batches to a food processor or blender to puree until it is smooth to your liking. Additionally, you can strain the soup through a sieve to create a very smooth, thin soup. Once that is done, add your choice of cream – if you are using it, which will slightly thicken and enrich your soup. Season with salt and pepper (use white pepper if you don’t care for small black specks in your soup) to taste and enjoy with a sprinkling of chives and/or parsley on top. We also topped ours with a bit of creme fraiche and crispy bacon lardons. There are many great possibilities for toppings for this soup – although it is very satisfying on its own.