Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Vee shee swaz"

I know it's not National Vichyssoise Day, which is celebrated on November 18, but I can't wait any longer! Vichyssoise is a simple pureed soup made with potatoes, leeks, chicken stock or even water, and enriched with cream. It is traditionally served cold, simply garnished with finely chopped chives. Somehow, these simple ingredients combine to make a deceptively chic soup, epitomizing the sincerity of French cuisine. However, although the ingredients are classic French, Vichyssoise is actually an American creation, reportedly first added to the Ritz Carlton New York menu by homesick French chef Louis Diat in 1917. He was inspired by childhood memories, near the town of Vichy, France, of his mother and grandmother serving him potato-leek soup, cooled down with cold milk. There are numerous versions floating around, some trying to "modernize" this classic soup; but, in my opinion, why mess with perfection? This is my version, which I'm dedicating to my dear friend Chloe, who prefers it warm and requests it all the time! 

Chloe's Vichyssoise

Serves 8-10


1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 large leeks, white portions only, cleaned, and thinly sliced
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 pounds all-purpose potatoes (I like Yukon Gold), peeled, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
Salt and white pepper, to taste
4 ounces creme fraiche
Finely chopped chives, for garnish


In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute until they just begin to soften, 3-5 minutes. Add the stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.

With an immersion blender, puree until extremely smooth. Whisk in the creme fraiche and season generously with salt and white pepper. Chill it or serve it warm, simply garnished with finely chopped chives.

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