In up-scale restaurants this soup is called Vichyssoise. ( vish_e_swaz’) It is a thick soup made of pureed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream and chicken stock. It is traditionally served cold, but can also be eaten hot.
There is much uncertainty about its origins; Julia Childs calls it an “American invention”, whereas other food historians state that “the origins of the soup is definitely French”. Louis Diat, a chef at the Ritz-Carlton in New York City, is most often credited with its invention, in an attempt to recreate a potato-leek soup of his childhood that his mother used to make.
Wherever the soup came from or who invented it is immaterial to me, I’m just glad someone did invent it and that I have the recipe. Turns out this is Mr. D’s favorite soup and he asks me to make it periodically throughout the year, whether its hot or cold outside. We usually eat it hot the day I make it, but on a hot day, I like it cold as a lunch with just some crackers and cheese.
- 4 – 5 leeks, white and light green part only
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 4 medium potatoes, all-purpose or baking–doesn’t matter
- 6 cups chicken broth or homemade stock
- 1 -2 cups heavy cream
- salt, pepper, a little dill–to taste
Clean and cup up the leeks. Leeks are very sandy, so remove several outer leaves, wash well, cut off the dark green tops, and use only the light green and white parts. Cut each one in half lengthwise (as pictured), fan out and rinse under running water. Then cut crosswise into 1/2” slices.
Melt the 4 Tablespoons butter in a soup kettle . Add the leeks and chopped onion. With the heat on low, allow this mixture to “sweat” slowly and become tender. Do not allow it to brown. Meanwhile peel potatoes and cut into small cubes.
Add chicken broth and potatoes. Bring mixture up to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are very soft. Put the mixture through a blender or food processor to puree. I like to use my immersion blender for this, as then there are no additional appliances to wash, and you can puree the whole quantity at once.
After the soup has been pureed, taste and adjust seasonings; adding a little dill enhances the flavor. Depending on the type of chicken broth you use, you may not need any additional salt. Finally, add the cream. I find 1 cup is adequate in giving a nice thick, creamy texture. I have also used light cream and half and half in place of the cream to reduce the fat and calories, and those work fine as well. The soup will taste as good, but not be as thick and rich. On a cautionary note: do not allow the soup to boil once the cream has been added—it will separate.
Enjoy with a salad or sandwich, and pretend you are enjoying lunch at a sidewalk cafe in Paris!
SOURCE: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Childs