Friday, December 16, 2011

VICHYSSOISE (French leek and potato soup)

Although there is some debate about who invented this famous soup, the story goes that French Chef Louis Diat invented it while working at the Ritz-Carlton New York in 1917.

In 1950, Diat told the New Yorker magazine:

     "During the summer of 1917, when I was seven years at the Ritz, I thought about the soup with leeks and potatoes from my childhood that my mother and my grandmother would always make. I remembered how, in the summer, my older brother and I put cold milk in to cool it and how delicious it was. I decided to do something similar for patrons of the hotel Ritz. "

Traditionally, vichyssoise is served cold but many people find it enjoyable served hot as well as cold


2 large leeks, trimmed, chopped and washed 
2 T. butter 
7 small Charlotte potatoes, peeled and chopped, or equivalent non-waxy potato 
4 C. whole milk 
4 C. water 
1 carrot, whole 
1 stalk celery, 
finely chopped 2 bay leaves, 
2 sprigs thyme, or 1⁄2 t. dried 
1⁄2 C. fresh chopped chives and/or parsley 
Salt and pepper


Heat soup pot and melt butter, then add leeks, celery, bay leaf and thyme. 
Sweat covered over medium heat about 10 minutes without browning. 
Add carrot, chopped potatoes, and cook covered another 5 minutes. 
Add water, 2 t. salt and bring to simmer. 

Simmer lid on till vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes, then add milk and wait just till it returns to simmer. Remove carrot and bay leaf and purée with hand blender, or transfer to food processor to purée. 

Add more salt and pepper to taste, then fresh herbs just before serving. Adjust amounts of liquid to obtain the consistency of soup you prefer, either thicker or thinner. For a richer soup, replace some of the milk with cream.