Though Julia Child never hesitates to adopt new technology in the kitchen, when it came to pureeing soups she favored the old fashioned food mill to blenders and food processors.
Child said that while blenders and processors are faster, they whip all of the vegetable fiber into the soup. But vegetable mills — a collander-like bowl fitted with a hand-cranked rotary blade that mashes the food and pushes it through the holes — holds back most of the fiber, producing a smoother, creamier soup.
Child included the food mill — which was invented in the 19th century — among her list of basic kitchen equipment in her seminal "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."
VICHYSSOISE (CHILLED LEEK AND POTATO SOUP)
Start to finish: 1 hour, plus chilling
Servings: 6 to 8
3 cups peeled and sliced potatoes
3 cups sliced leeks, white parts only
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or broth
Salt, to taste
1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream
White pepper, to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
In a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium-high, simmer the potatoes, leeks, stock or broth, and a bit of salt for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
Pass the mixture through a food mill or transfer it to a blender and puree until smooth. Pass the milled or pureed soup through a fine mesh strainer. Stir in enough cream to reach desired consistency, then season with white pepper and additional salt. Oversalt slightly, as salt loses flavor in chilled dishes.
Chill the soup. When ready to serve, ladle into cups and garnish with chives.
(Recipe adapted from Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking: The 40th Anniversary Edition," Knopf, 2001)