French Vichyssoise a’ la Summer

This is an old classic dish, originally a peasant dish from France which was served cold. My mother brought the recipe with her from Nice, where she lived many years ago. I stick to the basic recipe but over the years have made some minor changes and serve it hot. This is comfort food for a blustery cold winter day.

6 to 7 large potatoes peeled and chopped into medium chunks or quarters.
3 to 4 large leeks, rinsed very well, trim the ends, slice lengthwise and apply a medium chop.
1/4 stick of butter, more or less. I like more.
6 cups of chicken stock,(you may use chicken bullion or paste, just reduce or omit salt later).
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
Fresh ground coarse salt to taste.
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.
1/2 pint of heavy cream.
1/4 cup of Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry.

Saute’ the chopped leeks, in a cast iron skillet preferably, in the butter until wilted and very tender.
Boil the potatoes in the chicken stock until fork tender.
When potatoes are done cooking, lightly mash them in the broth, leaving small, medium and large chunks of potato.A fork will generally suffice.
(I don’t blend or puree the potatoes but the recipe often calls that you do. You choose what texture you prefer).
Add the cooked leeks to the potato and chicken broth mixture. Add cracked pepper, and salt ( if using fresh broth not bullion) and the nutmeg. Simmer slowly for an hour with the lid on.

Add heavy cream and then slowly add cream sherry. Simmer another 5 to 10 minutes or until the alcohol has completely cooked off.

I serve this with a fresh salad:
In a chilled bowl add baby green mesclun salad mix, sliced strawberries, mandarin oranges, candied pecans, baby goat cheese or bleu cheese crumbled, thinly sliced English cucumbers. Toss lightly. Finish with a strawberry vinaigrette.

Strawberry Vinaigrette:
In a blender place fresh strawberries, 1/4 cup organic honey, fresh cracked pepper, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and a pinch of cinnamon. Blend on pulse. With blender on, slowly drizzle extra virgin olive oil into mixture until well blended.

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