I lost an old friend last week from college days. He’d been sick for a long time and all the usual expressions applied – living on borrowed time, no more suffering and so on. But that somehow didn’t really help.
After a long, long drive to the service and cemetery…and back, I got home and didn’t know what to do...Look at pictures of our spent youth? No, I’m not ready to do that yet. Think about the thousands of phone calls and lunches that we shared? Too much, right now. Call somebody? I was talked out, actually.
So what did I do? I made soup. Why? I’m not sure, I just thought it would make me feel better. And not just any soup, but the one I love best in the world – carrot vichyssoise, served hot despite the name, the most soothing, easy to go down, warming soup I know. (I actually thought I had invented it until I found that the Four Seasons had been making it for decades.)
I didn’t just make a little batch, I took out my most ginormous pot, 12 quarts (more maybe) and put it on the stove and started chopping. Luckily, I had 5 leeks in the house which allowed me to more than double the recipe. I only wish I could have taken this soup and brought it to him.
The soup was done. It came out great, but I think I’m ready for something stronger. Maybe a bottle of champagne, a really GOOD bottle…No, something with even more oomph, maybe a great whiskey, steady and brave with great heart and depth, just like him.
To you, Michael. To our past. And to your future, which will live on in your 3 great kids and all the family and friends that you touched in your too short life. This is for you…
Carrot Vichyssoise (serves 4)
You’ll want to double, triple or quadruple or more this soup. It’s too good.
2 tbls. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 big carrots, chopped
1 big Idaho potato, peeled and chopped into ½ pieces
2 cans vegetable or chicken stock
Cut the root end off the leek and the toughest part of the green leaf end. Using a sharp knife, cut green end off as if you were sharpening a pencil with a knife. It should end up pointy. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and rinse (particularly the pointy end) in plenty of water. Slice thinly.
Heat olive oil in good heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the leeks, onion and carrots and good pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir and after the pan reaches a sizzle, cover it and turn down the heat to low. Leave it to sweat as long as you can, at least 10 minutes (20 minutes if you can) until the leeks and onion are completely soft. Stir in the potato. Add another big pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and continue to sweat for 3 minutes (or longer).
Stir in stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, adding lots of freshly ground pepper as you go. Let cool slightly. Purée in blender in batches. Heat and serve. Or chill and serve. (Soup can be frozen, when cooled.)