Potato Leek soup was made famous in the United States as Vichyssoise at the New York Ritz-Carlton. It is a simple soup that can be served either hot or chilled. You can use it as a base soup, adding pureed arugula or other greens to it. You may also add caviar to make it a little more complex and elegant as I did as pictured.
3 large leeks
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
½ Cup sliced shallots
½ Cup sliced onion
1 Large russet potato
1 Tablespoon minced Garlic
5-6 Cups chicken stock
¾ Cup warmed heavy cream
½ Cup minced chives
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 Scallop per serving
Preparing the soup:
Using only the pale green and white parts of the leeks cut them in half lengthwise and carefully wash them to remove and dirt that remains in them. This is a vital step as leeks infamously hold onto dirt giving your soup a gritty texture. Reserve outer leaves for sachet. Cut leeks into approximately ¼ inch slices. The size is not vital as you will be pureeing the soup later.
Melt the butter in a large pan over medium low heat. Add the leeks, shallots and onions seasoning liberally with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium and sweat the vegetables. Stir often as this will take approximately 5 minutes. Do not brown the vegetables, simply wilt them.
Peel and cut the potato lengthwise then cut into slices. This should yield about 1 ¼ – 1 ½ cups.
Add garlic to the sautéing vegetables, cook for a minute or two. Add potatoes. Make sachet: Take 2 or 3 dark leaves of leek, approximately 6-8 thyme sprigs, 2 sprigs of Italian parsley, 2 bay leaves and ½ teaspoon of black peppercorns and wrap the ingredients in 7-8 inch piece of cheesecloth. Tie into a bundle with kitchen twine. Add to vegetables.
Add chicken stock. Simmer for ½ an hour or until the potatoes are tender. At this point you may want to allow the soup to cool for 15-30 minutes before pureeing. Puree soup with immersion blender being careful not to burn yourself. You may strain your soup through a fine mesh strainer at this point for a more refined and consistent soup to make sure you have gotten rid of any chunks of potato or leeks that remain. There should be no chunks.
Return the soup to the heat and bring to a simmer. Add the cream and continue to simmer for at least 5 minutes. If you are serving the soup hot add the chives, reserving some for a garnish. If serving chilled reserve the chives for just before service. Pour the soup into a container and place in an ice bath to cool before refrigerating. The soup is best if served within 2-3 days.
Preparing the scallop:
At this point you have a lot of options for the scallop. You could simply make a crudo and serve the scallop raw, butter poach the scallop or sear the scallop. I chose to sear the scallop to give the soup the flavor and texture I was looking for.
Pull off the white foot from the scallop as this part gets very chewy when cooked. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. This part is very important if you wish to form the seared crust. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. You may either apply a little olive oil to the scallops on both sides or to the skillet.
Liberally salt and pepper the scallop on both sides. Add the scallops to the skillet, leaving an inch or so between scallops. Do not overcrowd. Cook for approximately 90 seconds. Flips scallops, easiest way is to use tongs. Sear scallops on other side for an additional 90 seconds. Reserve scallops for serving.
Completing and serving:
Add the chives to the soup, reserving a Tablespoon or so per bowl. Ladle soup into bowl and add 1 scallop per bowl. At this point if you are using caviar, spoon a teaspoon on top of each scallop. Of course the better the caviar, the better the soup. Garnish soup with remaining chives, top each bowl with a little black pepper and serve immediately.