(part of From Provence to the Catskills, our celebration held as part of of the Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 blog event)
The amuse bouche for our 24, 24, 24 dinner was to be inspired by Elizabeth David, a brilliant chef who by many accounts woke the English up to Mediterranean cooking in the 1950s. We wanted something relatively light that could be served in small portions, and Elizabeth David’s potato and watercress soup in French Country Cooking caught our eye.
In our actual implementation, I took the dish more in the direction of a vichyssoise, and garnished with alfalfa and tomato.
Chilled Potato, Leek and Onion Soup (with alfalfa / tomato garnish)
Serves 2 large bowls or 6 small portions
4 medium red potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
2 leeks (white to light green portion), diced
3 1/2 cups of whole milk
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch of nutmeg
Handful of cherry tomatoes, carefully minced
Handful of alfalfa sprouts, chopped
Boil the potatoes until tender. In a separate saute pan, melt the butter on low heat and cook the onions and leeks for 20 minutes, stirring periodically.
Normally I would just use a food mill for a vichyssoise, but we wanted the texture to be really smooth so I added the step of quickly pureeing the potatoes, onion and leeks in a food processor once everything was cooked. Then shift the combination to a food mill on a fine-mesh setting, and run it through the mill into a bowl.
Add the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir. Then stir in the white wine. Taste for salt and pepper, and you can err just a little bit on the salty side as its effects will be reduced when chilled. Chill in the fridge.
To serve, chop up some alfalfa sprouts and finely mince up some cherry tomatoes (try not to mush it up with the knife). Garnish the top of your servings with a pinch of alfalfa and then a pinch of the tomatoes. Serve with a small spoon.
One of the key criteria for this first course was that we could make it in advance, and serve it with minimal final prep work, since the second course was a complex pudding / souffle. We served it with white wine and it was a hit at the table. The above amount make enough for two full bowls of the soup, and was more than enough for the 6 portions we needed to kick off our dinner.