Vichyssoise is a classic French soup. Or is it? The true origin, French or American is a legitimate question. In 1917 Creme Vichyssoise Glacee made its debut on the menu of Chef Louis Diat at the New York Ritz Carlton Hotel. By all accounts it was the version we are familiar with today, served chilled and includes potatoes, leeks, chicken stock and cream. He named it after the town of Vichy near where he grew up and the name vichyssoise simply means, from Vichy.
However, in 1869 French Chef Jules Gouffe is credited with a recipe for potage a la parmentier published in a cookbook called Royal Cookery, and predates Louis Diat’s recipe. Jules recipe had a crucial difference. It was served hot and there is some debate whether it included cream. It’s undeniable that the French have a long history with potato and leek soup but Julia Child claimed it for America. You be the judge about where Vichyssoise was created.
Nazi’s Almost Ruin a Good Name
Such a good thing doesn’t come without controversy. Because Vichy became the seat of the Nazi collaborationist French government during World War II, many called for the name to be changed. Thank goodness sanity prevailed.
Relief From Heat
Vichyssoise is a cold soup. It strikes fear and loathing in some such as my better half, who refuses to eat cold soup. Living in a locale with a climate that can closely approximate a furnace in summertime, I readily appreciate a chilled meal. It’s a welcome respite from the heat.
Simple and Versatile
Its not a staple on menus in the mid-south and I was deprived for years until I decided to make it myself. It’s a simple recipe with only six ingredients and the result is a creamy, silky smooth treat. Vichyssoise is equally at home on a fine dining menu, or for a rustic lunch with a hunk of bread. In either case it’s best enjoyed with a chilled white burgundy.
- Yield: 8-10 1x
- 1–1/2 lbs russet potatoes – peeled, eyes removed, diced
- 4 leeks, white part only, sliced paper thin
- 1 small white onion – sliced and chopped
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 2 qt unsalted chicken stock
- 1 TBL kosher salt, more to taste
- 1 tsp ground white pepper, more to taste
- 1/2 pt. heavy cream
- Chopped chives
- 2 whole chive sticks per bowl for garnish
- Fresh cracked black pepper to taste for garnish
Begin one day in advance
- Melt butter in a deep soup pot
- Saute the leeks and onion, stirring frequently until separated and soft. Do NOT brown!
- Add chicken stock, diced potatoes, 1 TBL salt and ground white pepper
- Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to slightly reduce the volume and thoroughly soften the potatoes
- Let cool, then use immersion blender until completely smooth
- Adjust seasoning with salt and white pepper to taste
- Blend it again – repeat until you love it
- Gently whisk in the cream
- Refrigerate overnight to chill and let flavors meld together
- Before serving – adjust thickness if necessary with more cream
- Make a final adjustment with salt and white pepper if necessary
- Plate, add cracked black pepper, sprinkle chives and garnish with two sticks of chives.
- Serve and enjoy!
And just one more thing…
This is a classic with a rich French-American history. It’s so easy it will change your life!