Vichyssoise. ( “vish-ee-swahz”) I just love the way that word rolls off your tongue. It sounds so elegant and refined. But don’t let the name fool you, this is such an easy to make soup, and it tastes as good as it sounds. Vichyssoise is a thick soup made of leeks, onions, potatoes, cream and chicken stock. Traditionally it’s served cold, but it can be eaten hot.
There are several theories, conflicting, of course, about how vichyssoise came to be. There are those who believe it was invented in France, and others who say it was created in America. Louis XV of France was deathly afraid of being poisoned, and would only eat something after numerous servants tasted his food without incident. Legend is that by the time this soup arrived in front of Louis, it was cold, but since he liked it cold, and it was served that way from then on. Julia Child is quoted as saying that vichyssoise was “an American invention,” credited to Louis Diat, a French chef at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New York City. Diat grew up near Vichy, France and named his soup Cream Vichyssoise Glacée, based on a leek and potato soup made by his mother and grandmother, to which he and his brother added cold milk to cool it off in the summertime.
Gourmet Datil Garlic Blend is brand new! It’s the perfect combination of ripe, fruity Datil Peppers, garlic, onion, parsley and sea salt. Gourmet Datil Garlic gets a kick of heat from the datil peppers, and a pungent taste of garlic that perfectly compliments almost everything. Okay. So it probably won’t go in a cake or pie, but you can sprinkle a little or a lot on meats and poultry, in soups, stews, salads and on sandwiches. It’s amazing mixed with a little butter on French bread, on popcorn, or on vegetables. In my last blog, I used it to blacken scallops.
Fun Facts about Vichyssoise:
In the movie Batman Returns, Alfred the butler serves Vichyssoise to Millionaire Bruce Wayne, who when he tastes the soup declares “It’s cold!” Alfred very matter-of-factly responds “It’s supposed to be cold.”
Vichyssoise poisoning kills 52 nuns prepared by Sister Julia, Child of God in the Broadway musical Nunsense. The premise of the play is that the remaining nuns decide to stage a musical to pay for the funerals of their dead sisters.
National Vichyssoise day is celebrated on November 18.
Renouned Chef Anthony Bourdain has stated that his lifelong passion for food began at age 9 when he was served Vichyssoise as a passenger on the Queen Mary.
Leeks and Potatoes
Fun Facts about Leeks:
Ancient Greeks and Romans thought leeks would cure throat ailments, and Roman Emperor Nero was said to eat leeks daily to improve his singing voice.
In the Middle Ages, girls in Europe placed leeks under their pillows in hopes of seeing their future husbands in their dreams.
Botanically, leeks are related to onions and are part of the allium family, although they are a stalk rather than a bulb.
Leeks are high in Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and manganese. They are high in dietary fiber, calcium, iron and magnesium.
A diet rich in allium vegetables like leeks, onions and garlic has been shown to reduce total cholesterol levels in the bloodstream as well as reducing LDL or “bad” cholesterol, while at the same time increasing HDL or “good” cholesterol levels.
Leeks are also believed to help prevent infections, prevent certain cancers, treat anemia, and combat free radical damage among other things.
Leeks contain a small amount of oxalate so people with oxalate kidney stones should check with their physician before consuming leeks.
To prepare leeks:
Trim away the root ends as well as the tough green ends.
Cut the leeks lengthwise from the stalk to the tip of the leafy green ends.
Using cold running water, carefully rinse the grit and dirt from between the layers of leek. Alternately, place the root end in a bowl of cold water and swish around until all the dirt has fallen to the bottom of the bowl and the leeks are clean.
Drain thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
Leeks can be cut into rings or sliced lengthwise depending on the recipe.
This is a wonderful vegetarian recipe, that can become a Vegan treasure by leaving out the cream and using vegetable stock instead of the traditional chicken stock.. Originally made with heavy cream, I reduced the calories by using half and half. But feel free to substitute plain, unsweetened almond milk, soy milk or rice milk.
Traditional Vichyssoise is served cold, and completely pureed. My husband prefers it heated, however, so try it both ways to see which you like better. Just be sure to heat it low and slow so as not to curdle the milk or cream. Vegan Vichyssoise made with organic vegetable stock and without cream or milk. Leeks and Potatoes ready to be made into Vichyssoise.
Datil Garlic Vichyssoise
Serves: 6-8Prep TIme: 15 minutesCook TIme: about 40 minutesChill TIme: at least 2 hours
1cuphalf and half or heavy cream **(You may substitute plain almond milk, or soy milk.) **For vegan version you may leave out entirely – the soup is still delicious without the cream or milk.
Salt and white pepper to taste
Chives or scallions, sliced thinly for garnish if desired
Trim root ends from leeks. Trim top part of green leaves.
Slice leeks in half lengthwise and thoroughly rinse to remove all dirt and grime from between leaves.
Peel and dice the potatoes.
Heat a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Add olive oil and heat.
Saute the leeks for about 3 minutes until soft and translucent, stirring frequently.
Add the garlic and saute, stirring, another minute.
Pour stock into pot and add potatoes.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for about 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Use a fork to test potatoes. They are cooked when a fork inserted meets little to no resistance.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Using a stick blender, puree potatoes and leeks until completely smooth.
Alternatively, you may puree the mixture in a blender. You will need to work in batches. Fill the blender only about half full of the potato and leek soup mixture. Remove the center insert in the blender lid, cover with a clean towel and puree. (Filling the blender too full or covering completely with the lid may cause a build up of steam, and you may end up with soup everywhere. Not something you will do more than once, I can assure you!)