This dish is the first I ever remember cooking with one of the kids. Arthas and I whipped up a batch of Vichyssoise back when he was a little tyke attending the local Montessori Elementary School, and needed to bring a French dish to a year end multi-cultural celebration. I still have the framed pictures of the presentation he made to his class, all smiles and pride as his class devoured this tasty treat.
Vichyssoise takes its name from the spring of Vichy in the southeast of France. Originally, the potatoes and leeks were cooked in bottle of the famed Vichy Water, though today most recipes call for using plain water, or a light chicken or vegetable stock. The recipe couldn’t be simpler, and was an excellent way for us to use up some of the beautiful leeks we grew in our garden this year. This soup can be served, hot, cold or at room temperature, though to be a true Vichyssoise, it must be chilled.
A warmed version will still be delicious, but in order to avoid an international spat over culinary naming conventions (remember the brew-ha-ha over “freedom fries” ?), you should probably just call it “Potato Leek Soup”, the French are somewhat sticky on this point, consider yourself warned.
A true Vichyssoise also includes cream, so I do suggest you use some, but feel free to use less than the recipe calls for if you wish. I recommend making the soup up to the point of adding the cream, then chilling or freezing the base in batches. This recipe will make 12 cups of soup base to which you will add 2 cups (or less) of cream just prior to serving.
Cheers – Steve
- 1 1/2 pounds leeks, white parts only
- 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 5 cups water
- 1 bouquet garni (2 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 sprigs fresh parsley, wrapped and tied in a green leek leaf)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
- freshly ground white pepper to taste
- finely minced chives for service
- Trim the roots and greens from the leeks and slice them horizontally in half. Slice them into 1/2" half moons and toss into a large bowl of cold water to wash. Agitate well to remove all the dirt, then place the sliced leek into a salad spinner to dry. Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks.
- Melt the butter in a large soup pot and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently and not allowing to color. Add the water and stock, raise the heat and bring to a boil.
- When at the boil, add the 1 tablespoon salt, the bouquet garni and the potatoes. Lower the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
- Remove the bouquet garni and blend the soup well, in batches, until very smooth. If using right away, pour into a large bowl, add the cream and taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper to taste. Place in the fridge and chill for at least 3 hours. If you are not going to use all the soup right away, separate out some of the soup base and freeze it, only adding the cream at some future date when you have thawed it to serve.
- When ready to serve, check seasoning one last time, ladle into chilled bowls and top with minced fresh chives.