Leeks and friends and a recipe for the world’s best French vegetarian soup

Sure, we've just talked about onions, but leeks, chives, and ramps tend to look quite different than onions and tend to be used rather differently than onions. So I’ve given them their own post complete with the best (and insanely easy) French vegetarian leek recipe.

Let’s hope they don’t go getting all uppity, now.

Leek me alone
Sweeter and milder than onions, the real trick to dealing with leeks is to wash them, then wash them again. Why? Grit tends to play hide and seek in those leaves. So unless you like grit with your meals, and no one does, a good wash is very much in order.

Not as pungent as the onion, not as strong as the garlic, the leek is the mild cousin of both. Versatile, it can be used raw in salads and cooked in casseroles and other dishes (my favorite of which is vichyssoise.

Ramp up
Stronger in taste than either a leek or an onion (sort of an earthy garlic and onion taste), ramps need to be cleaned as thoroughly as leeks.

Because these straddle so many other items in taste, you can use ramps instead of onions or leeks or even garlic, for that matter. Like leeks, ramps are good both raw and cooked, although it is more common to find them cooked.

Chive boy
While chives, too, are an onion, they are also an herb.

Deep green with a mild onion taste, chives tend to be used raw, chopped coarsely and sprinkled on salads and on top of casseroles and egg dishes (very nice on an omelet) to add a nice flavor and a good crunch.

Recipe for the world’s best French vegetarian soup: Vichyssoise
This makes about four servings as a dinner appetizer. Or, you can fill your biggest soup bowls to the brim and enjoy it with ripped chunks of fresh, fresh French bread for a dinner for two.

2 cups sliced leeks, white part only
2 cups diced baking potatoes
3 cups water
a good sprinkle of sea salt, to taste
a healthy dash of freshly ground white pepper, to taste
1/2 cup of heavy cream or crème fraîche
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

Put the leeks, the potatoes, and the water into a saucepan. Add the salt and pepper and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about half an hour.

Purée the soup, then refrigerate for a few hours. Once it is thoroughly chilled, taste and add more seasonings if needed. Pour in the cream (or stir in the crème fraîche) and sprinkle the minced chives on top.

Two things you should know about Vichyssoise
First, alas, it was invented in New York. So, sadly, it isn't really French. But we seem to be the only ones who know this, so g'wan, speak French when you serve it. Heaven knows I do (Well, mostly I clear my throat a lot and pretend. C'est la vie!)

Second, while I don't repost information or recipes on this blog, I actually have posted this recipe before. Only it was in a guest post I was invited to write for another blog. So I figure it is okay to post it here, too. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm going to post the entire guest post tomorrow, just in case you missed it. It has tons of good cooking tips and, even better, it is funny.

So stay tuned . . .