Friday, January 8, 2010

Julia Child Soup Comparison

Days Left: 266
Recipes to Go: 581
Julia Child (Volume I ~ Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

I woke up this morning trying to think of all the variations falling under the title of soups. A strange thing to be thinking about first thing but cooking my way through Julia's soups must have triggered this deep thought process. Julia Child only covered a few soups in her much loved French Cookbook and yet cookbooks and cooking magazines throughout the United States find an amazing number of variations to label soups.

Having never tried a cold soup before, Julia's next recipe in line in her soup section was a Vichyssoise (Cold Leek and Potato soup). I was not overly anxious to try a cold soup because most of the cold soup's I have heard about have attached complaints over a lack of flavor or the cold soup has one ingredient in particular over-powering the dish. Stereo-typing food should never be in anyone's vocabulary but how many of us already have pre-set ideas even trying the food? Like liver and onions, tripe, or beef tongue? Julia has several recipes for tripe and again, I am dreading the very idea.

Three leek and potato type soups in a row. I already listed the first leek and potato soup about a month ago (while I was still skipping around in Julia's recipe sections) but today we are comparing #2 and #3. The recipe titles may be different but the soup base is not. Leeks and potatoes. The Water-cress soup is leeks and potatoes with water-cress, only hot. The Vichyssoise is leek and potato soup, only cold BUT what a flavor and texture variation! Delicious! Wonderful! and as Julie put it in the movie: YUM!

I would serve both of these soups as a first course meal starter. I think the Vichyssoise has more pull for ease when making a company dinner to impress. The soup is suppose to wait in the refrigerator to be served and the flavor is creamy and wonderful.

The Water-cress Soup (Leek and Potato with Water-cress added)

The soup was so much easier and faster to make by taking Julia up on skipping the puree in the food mill and using a fork to lightly mash the ingredients. Not thinking ahead, I took Julia's word on leaving the tender stems attached (as if I was still going to puree the soup). Larry and I are eating the soup while trying to slurp in the stems. Some of the stems were pretty long so eating a leaf and getting a long stem was hilarious. Always remember to write notations by recipes so the mistake does not get repeated later. After trying the first potato and leek soup, pureed, the chunky style was definitely more enjoyable. I am not quite sure why the puree for the Vichyssoise was preferred though.

Vichyssoise (Cold Water-cress Soup with a base of Leeks and Potatoes)

Loved the creamy texture for a cold soup. I guess being cold makes the difference. Also, I did not have to get out the food mill. Julia actually recommended a blender this time. Blending food and not worrying about the soup being too smooth was a relief, since cleaning the food mill is a pain in the butt!

The Vichyssoise base flavor is so much different. Instead of starting with water, the recipe calls for a white stock. I used my homemade turkey broth. The cold soup was quick to make (Julia's recipes require time, patience and a clear mind before attacking. Julia is so thorough with each recipe and sometimes I feel overwhelmed trying to understand what she means.) and I LOVED my very first cold soup!

Water-cress Soup

For 6 to 8 people

3 to 4 cups potatoes, peeled and sliced

3 cups thinly sliced leeks, including the tender green

2 quarts of water

1 Tablespoon salt

1/4 lb. (about 1 cup packed) water-cress leaves and tender stems)

4 to 6 T. whipping cream or 2 to 3 T. softened butter

Optional: a small handful of water-cress leaves boiled 1/2 minute in water, rinsed in cold water, and drained


Simmer the vegetables, water, salt together, partially covered, for 40 to 50 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Mash the vegetables with a fork, stir in the water cress and simmer for 5 minutes. Correct seasoning.

Off heat and just before serving, stir in the cream or butter by spoonfuls. Decorate with the optional water-cress leaves.

Vichyssoise (Cold Leek and Potato Soup)

for 6 to 8 people

3 cups potatoes, peeled and sliced

3 cups leeks, white part thinly sliced

1 1/2 quarts (4 cups to a quart) of white stock, chicken stock, or canned chicken broth

Salt to taste

1/2 to 1 cup whipping cream (I used 3/4 cup)

salt and white pepper

Chilled soup cups

2 to 3 T. minced chives


Simmer the vegetables in stock or broth instead of water as described in the recipe for Water-cress Soup. Puree the soup either in the electric blender, or through a food mill and then through a fine sieve.

Stir in the cream. Season to taste, oversalting very slightly as the salt loses savor in a cold dish. Chill.

Serve in chilled soup cups and decorate with minced chives.


Eliana said...

These soups look super delicious Shandy!

DanaJKalman said...


Shandy said...

Eliana, thank you! I am having so much fun with these recipes =)

Dana J, Thank you too!

Kate/Kajal said...

You can never have enough soup recipes :)
The one with the watercress looks delicious to me !