Serious Eats

Cucumber and Lettuce Vichyssoise from 'River Cottage Veg'

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[Photograph: Simon Wheeler]

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.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of River Cottage Veg to give away this week.

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.

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