Chilled potato-leek soup, or Vichyssoise, is an excellent budget dish to have up one's sleeve. At its most basic, the soup's humble ingredients combine to form a silky, luxurious meal far greater than the sum of its parts. In other words: I eat it quite a bit. But I'd never heard of anything like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's verdant version before. The velvety green soup in his new cookbook River Cottage Veg contains not only the potatoes and leeks, but also a couple of cucumbers and heads of butter lettuce as well. Even crazier is the fact that he cooks both of these ingredients before blitzing the mess in a blender. Yet, it works. The greenery adds a refreshing touch and brilliant color to the soup, and the dollop of creme fraiche at the end is the perfect tangy-rich note to finish.
Why I picked this recipe: Cooked cucumber and cooked lettuce? I had to try it.
What worked: Everything, from the ingredient list to the finishing touches, worked brilliantly.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: You could substitute spinach or another soft leafy green for the Little Gem if you still can't wrap your head around cooking lettuce. The croutons are a nice addition, but if you want to skip them, the soup doesn't suffer.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.