Vichyssoise - Cold Potato & Leek Soup
I was at Chez Lulu (a very cute continental bakery) a few weeks ago where I experienced my first vichyssoise. Before this, I had no idea what 'vichyssoise' was but yours truly asked the server instead of Siri for once. Our server politely explained that it was a cold potato and leek soup with a French accent which suddenly made it sound appealing so I ordered it. My only experience with cold soup before this was gazpacho which I really enjoyed and now vichyssoise has easily become another favorite of mine. I understand if the thought of cold potato and leek soup sounds unappealing at first but you have to give it a try at least once before judging this cold soup by the way it sounds and looks. It's light, smooth, creamy yet not too overpowering and comes together very easily in one pot in just about an hour. It uses a little bit of cream at the end so if you follow a vegan diet, I suggest you use a non-dairy alternative but other than that, it fits everyone's lifestyle including vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free, and even whole 30.
Although vichyssoise sounds like a classic French soup, it was actually invented in America in 1917 says the nibble. The name vichyssoise sounds pretty sophisticated (anything French sounds sophisticated) but everything from its ingredients, cooking method and the final result is extremely simple. Both potatoes and leeks are chopped and simmered in a broth until it's soft then pureed using a immersion blender in the same pot (or a blender). The soup is then allowed to chill or come to a room temperature and finished off with some cream to give a creamy, velvety mouthfeel. Chopped chives are added as a garnish which is optional but I recommend it.
Here is a short video that shows how to make vichyssoise. I am using vegetable stock in the video as opposed to broth but either one works.
If you are concerned about the use of heavy cream in this recipe, you may skip the cream and use a lighter alternative such as milk or evaporated milk but the result may not have that smooth and creamy result. If you end up trying with other alternatives, I'd love to hear about it. Originally I had intended to use evaporated milk to keep this soup on the lighter side but one of the ingredients on the can was carrageenan so I immediately put the can back and came home with some good old fashion half and half (PS. if you don't know the difference between half and half and heavy cream).
The soup can be made ahead of time but I suggest you add the cream right before serving. It is traditionally eaten cold but eating is warm/hot is okay too. I served this soup for lunch and we slurped it immediately with a slice of Mark Bittman's No Knead Bread. I received a heavy compliment that it was one of the best meals I have ever made so far which is a kind of a big deal. So, friends GO MAKE THIS SOUP NOW!
- 1.5 cups peeled and diced potato ( 1 large potato)
- 1. 5 cups chopped leeks (only the white parts)
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth (using chicken broth is fine too)
- 1/4 cup half and half (or use a dairy alternative of your choice)
- fresh chopped chives, for garnish
- salt, pepper to taste
- In a large pot, let potatoes and leeks simmer for 30-45 minutes or until soft.
- Add salt to the pot and remove from the heat. Let it cool for a few minutes.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the potatoes and leeks until very smooth. For a velvety feel, the soup can be put through a cheese cloth.
- If very hot, allow it to chill for a little bit otherwise, add the cream and adjust seasonings.
- Garnish with chives and serve it.
If you are into cold soup, try this easy gazpacho.
If cold leek and potato soup is not your thing, how about leek, green apple. and walnut salad?