Before I met the HH, he was a culinary vagabond, a peripatetic bon vivant who spent his evenings wandering from one acclaimed restaurant to the next. The HH, you see, ate almost all of his meals in restaurants in the days before our romance blossomed in the late 1990s (and I’ve written before how he once lived for two years in an apartment and turned the stove on exactly once.). As soon as he acquired his first paying job, he sought out the food of professional chefs daily (apparently Mum’s cooking wasn’t exactly all that enticing). By the time he reached his mid-20s, the HH had dined at every upscale eatery in the city and was a “regular” at hot spots like Bemelman’s, Le Trou Normand, the Courtyard Café or Joe Allen. His favorite meals consisted of thick, full-cream sauces atop butter-basted scallops; juicy pan-fried shrimp; or, as often as possible, near-blue filet mignon. (I know, it’s a miracle we two ever got together, isn’t it?).
Despite his gourmet palate, the HH’s salary was that of any other regular twenty-something, which meant that these gastronomic adventures often consumed most, if not all, of his weekly income. Given the choice between fine dining and new shoes, the HH invariably chose to endure wet feet in the rain. In fact, he was probably the only “regular” patron whose shoes were more worn than those of the wait staff!
These days, with his restaurant ramblings severely restricted (even if we could afford to dine out more often, there are precious few places that can accommodate my bizarre dietary restrictions), the HH sometimes reminisces about those halycon days when all the food he ate took a full day to prepare and was cooked by someone else. Once in a while, he asks whether I might be able to re-create one of those long-ago favorites. As a result, I spent one summer blending at least a dozen different takes on gazpacho; I’ve also toyed with endless variations on coconut cream pie.
One of my honey’s most-requested recipes is vichychoisse. Myself, I’m not a huge fan (in my mind, cold potatoes belong huddled in big chunks in a large bowl, swathed in may0-based dressing with dill and some green peas for your summertime family BBQ, thank you very much), but I did think that a warmed version would be lovely.
Recently I came across a recipe for an unusual potato soup. What made this one different? A secret ingredient that rendered it both substantial and silky.
I couldn’t resist, of course. I took the idea and
ran cooked with it. I created my own version of a healthier vichyssoise, one that gains its luxurious texture from a surprising addition–oats! When I served up a bowl of the soup, I didn’t tell the HH about the secret ingredient (he’s kind of getting used to foods that aren’t what they appear to be). He slid the spoon into the plush, velvety base and then into his mouth. He seemed to contemplate the soup for a moment, shutting his eyes and pursing his lips. Then he smiled and nodded.
“Mmmm, yes, this is great,” he finally said. “You know, I bet you could serve this soup in a fine vegan restaurant!”
Did you hear that? That’s how far my sweetie has come–from Coquilles St. Jacque at Le Trou Normand to Vegan Leek and Potato Soup at Chez RH–and the first restaurant that popped into his mind was a vegan one!
Well, it may not be classic vichyssoise, but this soup has quickly become one of the HH’s favorites. If you’re looking for a smooth, luscious first course for a holiday meal–and a restaurant-worthy one at that–do give it a try.
“Hey, Mum, you know that we can be peripatetic, too, right? And we can do it on eight legs! Oh, and if Dad’s not going to be eating that filet mignon any more, I think we might be able to help. . . . ”
Creamy Potato-Leek Soup
A terrifically easy soup that combines the nutritional value of potatoes with the additional B vitamins of oats. The texture will have you thinking there’s cream in the soup–all without any cholesterol at all.
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
5 large white or yellow potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
4 cups (1 liter) vegetable broth or stock
1/3 cup (80 ml) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick-cook)
fine sea salt, to taste
2 cups (480 ml) unsweetened almond, cashew, soy or hemp milk
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and sauté until the leeks are translucent, 5-8 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients except the almond milk and increase the heat to medium high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the potatoes are very tender, 20-25 minutes. Stir in the almond milk. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
Purée the mixture with a hand blender or in a regular blender or food processor, in batches if necessary (take care not to burn yourself on the hot soup!). Return the mixture to the pot and heat over low heat until warmed through. Serve with crusty bread. Makes 6-8 servings. May be frozen (defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then heat gently before serving).
Suitable for: ACD Stage 2 and beyond; refined sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut-free, yeast-free, vegan, low glycemic.
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