Vichyssoise, old school, but delicious
When I was a kid growing up in Hawaii, for special treats we would go to Rueben's in Kahala Mall. Ruben's made a couple things very well, including rack of lamb, caesar salad and vichyssoise. The memory of their vichyssoise has stuck with me.
Actually invented in the USA
Most people think of vichyssoise as French, but it was actually invented by Louis Diat, a French Chef, who was working at the The Ritz Carlton in New York City in the summer of 1917. To cool his sweltering guests, Chef Diat, reimagined traditional French Potage Parmentier (leek and potato soup). He added a hefty pouring of cream, blended it smooth, chilled it and served it with fresh chive snips. The original name was Crème vichyssoise glacée, and was eventually shortened to vichyssoise.
Serve VERY chilled
There is nothing more refreshing than an ice-cold cup of vichyssoise on a hot summer's day. The secret is the soup must be served very cold. In fancy-schmancy restaurants they will serve the soup in a chilled bowl and even chill your spoon.
Making vichyssoise is as simple as it gets. This recipe is modified from a 1962 House and Garden recipe. 1n 1962 no one was afraid of cream. When in Rome, I tend to do as the Romans, so I make my vichyssoise with full cream. You can use half and half or even milk and still get a wonderful soup. The beauty of vichyssoise is you can make up a big batch, keep it in the fridge and enjoy it for for 5 - 6 days.
- If you salt the water you cook the potatoes in you will not need a lot of additional salt in the soup, particularly if your chicken broth is salted.
- See my post on how to wash leeks.
- Use a blender, rather than an emersion mixer or food processor to puree the soup. Be very careful when blending hot soup. Fill the blender to no more than two third's capacity and literally lean on the lid, as the pressure can blow the lid off and leave you with a nasty burn.
- Use a fine microplane to grate your nutmeg.
- Snip your chives with a pair of kitchen shears to get nice clean cuts.
- If you want to be fancy, chill your serving bowls and soup spoons.
- 1.5 pounds peeled russet potatoes, diced into 1" pieces
- 1 t salt
- 3 T butter
- 5 cups leeks, cleaned and sliced using white parts and a little of the light green parts
- 5 cups chicken broth
- Ground pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- 1.5 cups heavy cream
- Chopped chives for garnish
- Fill a pot with water and add 1 t salt. Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain potatoes in a colander and reserve.
- Melt the butter in a dutch oven, and sauté the leeks until tender, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with fresh cracked pepper and nutmeg to taste.
- Working in two or more batches, put the soup mixture in a blender, taking care not to fill the blender more than two thirds full. Put the lid on securely, and lean on the lid before you turn on the blender. Blend on high until smooth. Put blended soup in a stainless steel bowl, stir in the cream and refrigerate until very cold. I like to refrigerate overnight. Garnish with snips of chives.