Everybody loves good ‘comfort food’, classics such as macaroni cheese, mashed potatoes or fried noodles are high on the list. But what is the next best thing to comfort food? I call it continental holiday food. It is the kind of dish you would order when you are by the pool, from room-service, or simply in a café. The excitement of being away, in a new environment, slightly jet-lagged, triggers happy and carefree feelings. Everything tastes better when you are on a holiday. So here are my two contenders: For Asia, it’s nasi goreng (fried rice with egg), and for the rest of the world, it’s a crème Vichyssoise.
I have always loved ‘crème Vichyssoise’. This chilled potato and leek soup, topped with a generous amount of cream and chives, is my idea of ‘travel’ happiness. This French/ American soup was born in New York, created by a French chef at the Ritz-Carlton by the name of Louis Diat. One summer day, chef Diat was homesick and thinking fondly of his grandmother in his hometown Montmarault, near Vichy. He was inspired to make her delicious potato and leek soup, just like the one she made when he was a child. His brother and he added cold milk to make the soup easier to drink. It was one of his fondest childhood memories, reminding me of one of the best ‘food’ characters ‘Anton Ego’ from Ratatouille (Pixar). This story warms my heart.
Ingredients: (serves 6)
7 leeks, (white bulb) sliced into rings
5 potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 onion, sliced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 liters of chicken or vegetable stock
50 ml white wine
25 grs butter
salt and pepper to taste
100 ml crème fraîche
Slice onions, potatoes (quartered) and leeks (into fine rings). In a large pot melt butter over low heat, add onions and fry for 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and leek and continue frying on a low heat for 10 minutes. Deglaze with the white wine, reduce for 2 minutes, then add the chicken or vegetable stock. Add thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Stir well, and when it starts to boil, lower heat, cover pot and continue to cook for 20 minutes.
When ready, let the soup cool, then mix in the food processor until smooth and liquid. You can chill the soup in the fridge for 20 minutes or more. I also enjoy this soup served warm. It’s up to your taste.
Chop chives (finely). Add a tablespoon of crème fraîche, sprinkle with chives and serve.