I kind of break the rules of the knife skills class. Well, kind of is not really accurate- I just break them. Not the obscure footnoted rules- no, no, the first tuck-your-fingers-under rule. I can't be bothered with the tucking-the-fingers-under thing. I’ve been cutting without my fingers tucked under for so long, it is second nature. I hardly ever cut myself and I never really thought about being self-conscious about my knife skills until Jen asked me if I was going to give her a proper knife cutting technique for the picture. So I did. There!
But I don’t do that when I cook. I was just mugging for the camera. Or my fingers were. My fingers are used to stabilize whatever I am cutting and more often then cutting my fingers, I have cut my nails. And more often than cutting my nails with a knife while not observing proper knife skills, I have cut my nails with a vegetable peeler. Those things are not nearly as harmless as a knife.
And since the picture above is of me prepping for Vichyssoise, here’s the recipe!
Ingredients: 4 tbs (1/4 lbs) butter; 2 lbs leeks, white and tender green parts only, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise and rinsed; ½ heaping cut shallots peeled and sliced into ¼ inch pieces; 1/3 cup yellow onions chopped coarsely ; 1 tbs garlic minced; 1 sachet; 6 cups homemade chicken stock; 1 lbs potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes), peeled; ¾ cup heavy cream warmed; chives; salt; fresh ground pepper; extra virgin oil.
The sachet is simply a piece of cheesecloth containing the following: outer leaves of a leek- 2 layers; 2 springs of thyme; 4 springs of parsley; 1 bay leaves; 10-15 black peppercorns. Tie it up and voila your sachet!.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, shallots, and onions, season with salt and pepper, and allow them to soften and sweat 5-7 minutes without browning.
Cut them into quarters lengthwise. Then cut the long potato sticks into ¼ inch pieces.
Add the garlic to the sweating vegetables and cook for another minutes stirring. Add the cut-up potatoes and the sachet, stir again and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Pour in the chicken stock and taste for seasoning. Adjust salt and pepper if needed. Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce heat to low maintaining the simmer for about 30 minutes.
Check the potatoes to make sure they are tender. If they are not, allow the liquid to simmer longer.
Remove from the heat and allow the soup to cool for 15 minutes. Puree the mixture in batches in your blender. Don’t overfill it with hot liquid. Before you turn it on, remove the little plastic cap from the blender’s lid. Cover with a clean kitchen cloth then turn it on. You are trying to avert a hot liquid explosion.
Strain the soup through a fine sieve and return it to a clean pot. Bring the soup back to as simmer. Warm up the cream and add it to your soup.
Garnish with freshly cut chives, a drizzle of olive oil, and fresh cracked pepper.
Enjoy the soup cold or serve it hot and watch those fingers!
Photography by Jennifer Olson.