This week marks my wedding anniversary. The husband and I have been together almost 12 years and have been married 4. It hasn’t always been easy- we’re both very independent, opinionated and stubborn. This is not always a good combination.- but at the end of the day, I can’t really picture my life without him.
Because it hasn’t been an easy relationship, I’ve spent a lot of time observing, talking with and thinking about other couples I know. These couples range in age, type of relationship and length of time together. In the time I’ve known them, some have had children, others have gotten married and others have gotten divorced (and some, re-married, though not to each other). It’s a pretty diverse group.
One couple I met through a former job. They had an adorable daughter and eventually I babysat for them and we became friends. The husband was a large, gregarious fellow and his wife was smaller and quieter. They were both well-educated and well-traveled, leading to some extremely interesting conversations and discussions. They were open and honest about almost every aspect of their relationship and, at times, somewhat too honest. Their relationship was also not easy and in the few years I was close with them, they moved to a new state, had a second child and got divorced. In the three months before they separated, they moved to an island off the coast of Georgia and spent the time figuring out the logistics of the dissolution of their marriage. It was, well, different. In the end, it was the best thing for both of them as they are now both re-married. One half of the couple now has stepchildren and the other half has new biological children. I’m not close with them anymore- after their divorce they both moved further away and as more about their relationship was revealed it got…awkward.
I tell you about them because to me they epitomize the struggle that marriage is. It’s ups and downs, it’s getting along when you don’t want to, it’s making sure your children have what they need, it’s attending to your own needs, all the while trying to remain partners, friends and lovers. Not everyone can do it. What’s not coming through here is just how much I adored them, as a family and as individuals. They were kind, loving and so smart. They did the best they could with a situation they thought would have a different outcome- no one gets married thinking, “I’ll do this for a while and then move on.” The two of them handled themselves as well as they could as they realized that the best thing was to break those vows and allow themselves to change. I admire them for that.
I also tell you about them because it was on the island in Georgia (with which I fell in love and now harbor a secret hope to return someday) that I first had potato leek soup (or Vichyssoise). I watched the husband make it and was surprised at how easy it was- he didn’t measure, he didn’t really do much prep and then we had this lovely soup. I think of them whenever I make it now and hope that they are both happy and well (actually, I hope that one partner is well- I happen to know that the other one is, through the magic of facebook).
Potato Leek Soup
1/2-1 stick of butter
1 lb of potatoes
4-5 cups chicken broth
1/2-3/4 cup milk or cream
Slice your leeks thinly (just the while and pale green part, not the leaves) and separate the rings into a bowl. Cover with water and let them sit so the sand and dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl.
In a soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Once it’s melted, add the leeks (drain them first) and let them cook until soft. Don’t let them brown. Meanwhile, peel your potatoes. This time around I used small yukon gold potatoes (stopping up the kitchen disposal with the peels. It’s a good thing my husband loves me because I plungered it and it’s not fixed. He’s going to have pull out the plumbing tools.).
Once the leeks have softened, add the potatoes and let them cook for a minute or two.
Pour in enough chicken brother to cover and let it cook until the potatoes are soft.
Take your stick blender and blend until smooth. Or pour it into a regular blender and blend until smooth. Or, only blend part of it and leave some of it chunky for texture. I prefer mine smooth.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy warm or cool (if it’s cool, it counts as Vichyssoise). Think of marriage and all its complexities.
*To make this vegetarian, substitute the chicken broth with veggie broth, water or milk.