“It’s called the great pumpkin bowl, Vinny Grette!” Isla tied on her apron furiously, then began pulling out pots and spoons and cream. “For Halloween, we’ll make some creamy soup and dish it up in bowls made from jack-o’lanterns.”
“Awesome!” said Vinny. “My granddad made a wonderful soup he called Vichyssoise.” Vinny’s voice became softer and rang with a little sadness. “But Grandpa used mainly potatoes. The starch in potatoes is a simple molecule that turns into sugar as soon as it hits our stomachs. I haven’t had vichyssoise in ages.”
“I have an idea,” said Isla. “Let’s try the soup with sweet potatoes instead. Orange ones for Halloween. We can call it Vinnyssoise!”
Vinny beamed. “My favorite veggie!” And with that, the two of them got to work.
A little history
In spite of its French name, vichyssoise was invented in America (Wikipedia). But still, it was a French chef who made it popular. Louis Diat, chef at the Ritz-Carlton in New York City, told the New Yorker in 1950 how it came about:
In the summer of 1917, I reflected upon the potato and leek soup of my childhood… my older brother and I used to cool it off by pouring in cold milk. I resolved to make something of the sort for the patrons of the Ritz.
“I like your idea, Isla,” Vinny said. “I’m honored you’d name it after me. This soup is not only fit for the Great Pumpkin, but seeing as Diat invented it during the First World War, it’s also a fine remembrance of the men and women who fought for our freedom.”
“My teacher said it’s been 100 years since Canadians were winning in the battle of Vinny Ridge,” said Isla.
“It’s Vimy Ridge, Isla,” Vinny corrected. “That victory in France was credited with defining the moment Canada became a nation. Let’s get to work. Halloween and Remembrance Day are just around the corner!”
- 3 large leeks, the white parts only, well rinsed and chopped (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced sweet potatoes (2 medium tubers, washed and peeled)
- 4 cups chicken stock (I had some homemade in the freezer)
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- In a heavy soup pot on medium-low heat, gently cook the chopped leeks and onion in butter until soft, about 15 minutes. Do NOT let them brown.
- Add potatoes and stock to the saucepan. Salt and pepper to taste; do not overdo them! Bring to the boil, then simmer very gently for 30 minutes.
- Puree in a blender or food processor until very smooth. I used an immersion hand mixer right in the soup pot, then transferred the soup to a blender to puree in batches.
- I finished by putting the soup through a sieve, because it was a special occasion. It came out silky smooth.
- Cool in the fridge for several hours. This is one soup you could make a day ahead. Gently stir in the cream before serving. I garnished the bowls with a dab of skim-milk foam from our espresso maker. I got ten generous 1-cup servings.
Adapted from Allrecipes.com
How does this dish stack up, health-wise?
The good news is that the starchy carbs from the sweet potato are low glycemic, which is a good thing for your blood sugar levels. The bowl provides an excellent source of Vitamin A (50% of daily requirement) and other powerful antioxidants known to fight off chronic diseases. Leeks are also diuretic, removing excess water from your tissues, which helps to detox your body. The soup is also a good source of B vitamins, vitamin C and iron.
The bad news is the high amounts of saturated fats in the cream and butter, which are thought to contribute to heart problems. I use cream and butter only for special occasions, because they do taste so good:). But I also substitute skim milk and coconut oil for everyday use. The soup still tastes great with the low-fat substitutions, so go for it if cholesterol and saturated fats are a problem for you.
With the cream and butter, each 1-cup serving has 190 Calories, 12 grams fat (including more than half from the dangerous saturated kind and cholesterol), 3.5 grams protein from the broth and cream, and 17.5 grams carbohydrates of which 3 grams are fiber and 5 grams are sugar (from the cream and sweet potatoes).
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