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Asparagus Vichyssoise

asparagus vichyssoiseI am a huge fan of supporting anything local; it just makes sense to me to do so.  A few years ago I read The 100 Mile Diet – A Year Of Eating local.  Big kudos to Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon for their one year journey of only eating what was available to them within 100 miles.   It’s a far cry from the staggering 1,500 miles from farm-to-plate that happens all over North America.  A study from Brock University found that if five million Ontarians spend $10 of their weekly grocery budget on local foods it would contribute $3 billion to their economy. Of course, in smaller communities that number would be less but it still would have a positive impact.  It’s a tough sell, though, for those on a tight budget.  I admit, I shop all over the food grocery map…it’s the only way I can make things balance and help stretch my food dollar.  The road to buying local is paved with good intentions and it’s important we all feel that even a small amount contributes in a big way.  Brock University also stated that buying local has three times the financial impact on communities compared to buying imported items.

Vichyssoise (vish·ē·swäz′) is a thick soup made with leeks, potatoes and chicken stock.  For those who are lactose intolerant, omit the milk and increase chicken broth or substitute water for the milk.  Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K, A, and C and this humble perennial is also a natural diuretic.  To get optimum health benefits from asparagus, consume within 48 hours of purchase as they are more perishable than most vegetables (store in the refrigerator with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel).

Serves 4 to 6
extra-virgin olive oil
knob of butter
3 leeks, cleaned and sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 lb. asparagus, roughly chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
1 cup cubed potato
plain yogurt

In a saucepan melt butter and add a splash of olive oil. Add leeks and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add potatoes, stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Toss in asparagus, cover and cook 5 minutes or until asparagus is al dente. Remove from heat and purée using a hand blender. Stir in milk and season with salt and pepper. Let the soup cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with a tablespoon or so of plain yogurt.  Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  If the soup is too thick, thin with water.  This soup is typically served cold but you can serve it hot, too.  Enjoy!