The food: Sweet Potato and Leek Vichysoisse
In my novel The Oakdale Dinner Club, the character Mary Ann, who is itching to have an extra-marital affair (for quasi-justifiable, “get hers” reasons, after her husband cheated), brings to a key meeting of the dinner club something another character refers to as “the unfortunately named” Engorgeous Soup. The recipe comes from a (fictional) cheesy cookbook Mary Ann has found called “Cooking for Lovers” – on another occasion, she makes a Chocolate Orgasm cake from the same book – and she hopes the soup will act as an aphrodisiac on her intended affair prospect.
I didn’t describe the soup in detail in the book, but the soup I had in mind when I was writing the passage was a Sweet Potato Vichysoisse that has been in my home repertoire since 1985, when I found the recipe in The Silver Palate Good Times cookbook.
The vichysoisse is smooth, silky, and rich-tasting, thanks to white wine and lime zest/juice that deepen the flavours of the sweet potatoes, leeks, stock, milk and heavy cream. A bowl of the soup, garnished with frizzled leeks as shown in my photo above, would make a lovely light lunch or supper served alongside a few chunks of toasted focaccia, say.
Sidenote: you can hear me talking about food, affairs and The Oakdale Dinner Club with the CBC Radio One “Host Shelagh Rogers at CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter web page.
Sweet-Potato Vichysoisse*, adapted from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook (by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
4 leeks (white part only), well rinsed, dried and sliced
6 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and sauté until soft and transparent.
2. Add the stock, wine and sweet potatoes. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Let cool off the heat about 15 minutes, then stir in lime zest and juice, milk and cream. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until very smooth.
5. The soup can be served hot or cold, with garnishes of your choice.
6. The recipe says it serves 6, but I find it makes more like 8-10 servings.
*Aphrodisiac qualities not guaranteed.