Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Vichyssoise is a simple but elegant, lovely cool and velvety-smooth pureed warm-weather soup. It mainly requires leeks and potato with chicken broth and cream.

Yes, the name is French, but it seems to be a bit questionable whether vichyssoise is an American or French invention...

However, the credit is usually given to Louis Diat, a French chef at the Ritz-Carlton in New York in the early 1900s.

He later wrote for Gourmet magazine, and some of his articles can be read online (he actually DOES claim to be the inventor of vichyssoise in this article, and I'm very apt to believe it).
Diat's column can make an interesting read if you like reading foodie literature.
The history and his memories can offer an interesting look at earlier American as well as French life and cooking.

When you make this, you want to be sure and give yourself enough time so that the soup has a chance to cool. Four or more hours of cooling time is usually required.

Serves 8-12

4 large leeks, white and light green part only, halved lengthwise and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 medium yellow onions, diced (about 3 cups)
4 T butter
5 c chicken or vegetable stock
2 large baking potatoes, diced (about 2 lbs.)
1/4 t freshly ground nutmeg
1 c heavy whipping cream
1 c half and half (light cream)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Optional: chopped chives for garnish

Place the chopped leeks in a large bowl of water. Swish them around a bit to help remove bits of dirt and sand caught between the layers. Remove the leeks by scooping them out of the water and into a colander so that the dirt which has sunk to the bottom of the bowl stays in the bowl.
In a large dutch oven or saucepan, melt the butter. When foaming, add the drained leeks and the onion. Stir so that each piece is warmed and coated with butter, turn the heat to low, and cover. Let the vegetables cook for about 10 minutes, removing the lid a couple times to give a good stir, then making sure to replace the lid.
Once the onions and leeks are softened, add the vegetable or chicken stock and the potatoes as well as 2 t kosher salt. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Be careful not to overfill the food processor or blender since spillage can be an issue. Hot liquids also expand, so 1/3 of the total capacity is safe. After each batch is pureed, pour it into a large bowl. Once all of the soup is pureed, stir in the nutmeg and place the bowl in the refrigerator to cool (at least 4 hours).
Prior to serving, stir in the half and half and cream, and season to taste with extra salt and pepper.
Garnish with chopped chives if desired.


  1. "Vichyssoise (pronounced /ˌvɪʃiːˈswɑːz/ US dict: vi·shē·swäz′) is a thick soup made of puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock. It is traditionally served cold, but can also be eaten hot." (Wikipedia)

    Natalie's version is a. not "thick" and b. is definitely THE cold soup par excellence! Bravo, Natalie!

  2. Favorite picture winner is:

    Second one from the top.
    Shows how to cut up the leeks.
    Leeks can seem tricky to handle
    when you are not familiar with them.
    (that is-- when you are not FRENCH)

    Natalie, can you tell us how to clean them?

  3. Leeks can be a little tricky if you've never used them before.
    Cleaning instructions are listed in the recipe...
    It's easiest to cut the leeks into small pieces and soak and agitate a bit in water to remove any dirt from between the layers.