Hot Soup for a Cool Day


Hot Potatoes

It's so clear today that from where I'm sitting I can see both the Catskills and the Adirondacks, and if I get out the binoculars I can just make out Lake George far to the north.

It feels like spring is trying to arrive, and yet there's not a single local vegetable in the market and it feels like soup weather.

And so I ended up making this warm, vegetarian version of the rich, cold summer soup, Vichyssoise. It is not, by the way, a French dish. It was invented at the Ritz Hotel in New York in 1917 by Chef Louis Diat (who went on to become the resident chef at Gourmet Magazine in the fifties.)

Hot Vegetarian Vichyssoise

4 large leeks, washed cleaned of sand, white part finely chopped (5 cups)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup finely chopped onions

4 cups vegetable stock (recipe below)

5 small russet potatoes, peeled and chopped (1 pound)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup whole milk

1 cup half and half 



chopped chives or scallions

squeeze of lemon


Cook the leeks and onions slowly in the butter until they're soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. The quantity will reduce considerably.

Add the hot vegetable stock,  the potatoes, and the salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for thirty minutes, partially covered. 

Strain the mixture and puree the leeks and potatoes in a food processor. 

Whisk the puree into the strained liquid, add a cup of milk, and a cup of half and half.  

Bring to a boil and the very carefully puree the entire mixture again to make an extremely smooth soup. (Hot soup can be very painful when it hits your skin.O

Add a splash of lemon juice, taste for seasoning, and garnish with chopped chives or scallions.


Quick Vegetable Stock

To make a small amount of vegetable stock, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a  medium sized pot and saute half a chopped onion, one chopped carrot, the washed dark green tops of the leaks used for the soup, one chopped celery stalk, a few sprigs of thyme, and, if you happen to have it, a half fennel bulb, chopped.  Add a few good grinds of black pepper and two quarts of water, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. 

Strain one quart of liquid from the vegetables and use for the vichyssoise.


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Hi Tom,

I was probably stoned too, so I'm not sure I'd remember it either. But let's say we did cook together.
And that it was fun!

Hey Gourmand Moe,

Hope it turned out well. And here, we've finally had a warm day! Feels like a gift.

Dear Ruth Reichl--

I am a longtime devotee of your work, and, having just bought DELICIOUS! at the Strand, I noticed the link to this site on the dust jacket.

It began when I read MMMMM: A Feastiary, a book I still have and adore. I fondly remember attending your appearance at the Y way back when, while you were still reviewing restaurants at the TIMES. You wore a hilarious blonde wig and giant sunglasses and spoke in a squeaky voice. It was a wonderful event.

I *think* that I cooked a meal with you for about 12 people in Ann Arbor back in the 1960s. We didn't know each other, and no one else knew how to cook, so there we were. I was about 16, and pretty stoned, so I could be mis-remembering. But i hope it's true!

Meanwhile, I'm as restless for Spring's arrival as you seem to be!

Fondly, Tom

Here in NZ soup weather has just started. Oh the comfort in a bowl of chicken soup made from leftover roast chicken, leeks, celery, leftover mashed sweet potato and some homemade stock with a hint of curry powder. you can feel the Jewish mama approval even though mine was of Irish extraction!


This soup sounds divine. I am making it tonight. Spring vegetables are spouting here in Omaha and the farmers markets open on Mother's Day weekend.

How I miss Gourmet Magazine. I subscribed to it for 25 years until its demise. Now I have a longer subscription to Bon Appetite'. Glad I found your blog also!!!

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Where am I eating? What's for dinner tonight? And what books have I been reading? For a look at what's going on in my life lately, take a look at this journal, which I try to update on a regular basis.