Cooking: Coriander and Lemongrass “Vichyssoise” | A Cold Soup

 

Although I don’t make them often, I do love a cold soup in Summer. I have a wonderful Avocado and Celery Soup that is a cracker, and of course there is gazpacho, Roast Tomato and Corn Cold Soup and cold borsch. And now add this Coriander and Lemongrass Vichyssoise to the list.

Elizabeth David, that writer of all things French in the mid 1900’s would turn her nose up at this recipe. Vichyssoise is a classic potato and leek cold soup made by every French housewife. When the English began to make Vichyssoise, they encountered problems. Leeks were out of season before the hot weather began.  And chives were hard to come by. So they began to replace and add a variety of ingredients – cucumbers instead of leeks, mint instead of chives, and so forth. This recipe has some echos of that tinkering.

I  first made this dish in 1998. Instead of leeks, it indicates onions. Today I would think this too strong a taste for such a wonderful soup, and replace it with leeks (which, thankfully, are more available more readily in Summer than in 1998). And I would use chives instead of spring onion garnish for the same reasons. The subtle flavours of coriander and lemongrass are lovely additions but I would add the coriander leaves later in the cooking to retain some fresh vibrancy. Pesto? Perhaps not.

I am leaving the recipe as it is, but feel free to make the changes suggested above.

Feel free to browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series. You might also like our Cold Soup recipes here and here. Or you might like to browse French recipes here and here. Check out our easy Summer recipes here and here.

Coriander and Lemongrass “Vichyssoise”

(Serves 4)

A cold soup for a hot day.

Stock 60g fresh coriander plants 4 thick stems lemongrass
4 spring onions 900ml vegetable stock or water
salt
Soup 60g butter 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
300g new potatoes, skins scraped off and potatoes chopped into small pieces 150 ml milk
salt and freshly ground pepper
To Serve lemon slices or pesto

Make the stock: remove the leaves from the coriander stalks, reserve the leaves and set aside the stalks for the stock. Remove the outer layer form the lemon grass and set aside for the stock. Finely chop the tender centre part and reserve. Trim the tops off the spring onions and set aside for the stock. Finely chop the white part of the spring onions and reserve.

Wash the reserved coriander stalks and the lemongrass and spring onion trimmings and place them in a saucepan with the stock or water and salt to taste. Bring to the boil and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

To make the soup: melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the reserved chopped lemongrass and the chopped onions and potatoes. Cook over low heat until the vegetables are softened but not brown, approximately 10 minutes. Strain in the stock and add the milk and about 3/4 of the reserved coriander leaves, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer over a low heat for 25 minutes.

Allow the soup to cool a little then pour into a blender or processor and process until smooth. Pour through a strainer into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

To serve: Transfer the soup to individual chilled bowls, add the remaining coriander leaves and reserved chopped spring onions and float lemon slices on top, or add a dollop of pesto.

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