Leek and Potato Soup
Vichyssoise Soup History:
History has it that King Louis XV of France (15 February 1710 – 10 May 1774) accidentally invented a version of today’s Vichyssoise Soup. The paranoid King loved his comforting potato soup and had it for dinner quite often. He was always worried that someone was trying to poison him and demanded that a number of servants taste his food before he ate it. King Louis’ favorite recipe for potato soup was often passed from one servant to another. By the time it finally reached the King, it was cold. King Louis decided he preferred potato soup cold. Myth of True – you be the judge!
1903: There is a recipe in Escoffier’s Guide Culinaire in 1903 for Puree Parmentier, a French-style cream of leek and potato soup. And even father back in history, a recipe for Leek and Potato Soup appears in Jules Gouffe’s 1869 Royal Cookery Book. The major difference, though, is that both Escoffier’s and Gouffe’s potato soups were served hot.
1917: Vichyssoise (Vee-she-su-waa-ze) soup is generally accepted as being created by Chef Louis Diat (1885-1957). Diat worked at Ritz hotels in Long, Paris, and New York. While chef of New York’s Ritz Carlton, he created the cold leek and potato soup know as Vichyssoise. In the days before air conditioning, the Ritz had a Japanese roof garden and Diat was constantly on the lookout for dishes that would cool his customers in the sultry July and August weather. He remembered the simple bourgeois hot leek an potato soup his mother, Annette Alajoinine Diat, had made when he was a boy in Montmarault in Central France and how he and his family had cooled he soup by adding milk to it. And so on the rooftop of the Ritz, he prepared this same cold soup and called it “Creme Vichyssoise Glacce” after the famous spa located 20 miles from his home town of Bourbonnaise, as a tribute to the fine cooking of the region. Diat served this soup during the colder seasons, he did not include it in the menu, but so many people asked for it, that in 1923, Diat placed it on the menu full time. Louis Diat told the New Yorker magazine in 1950:
In the summer of 1917, when I had been at the Ritz seven years, I reflected upon the potato and leek soup of my childhood which my mother and grandmother used to make . I recalled how during the summer my older brother and I used to cool it off by pouring in cold milk and how delicious it was. I resolved to make something of the sort for the patrons of the Ritz.
1940s: During World War II, some patriotic chefs tried to change the name to “Creme Gauloise Glacee” because in 1940, a government collaborating with the Nazis was set up in the French town of Vichy.
Trim and clean leeks (see below); thinly slice the white portion.
Cut and clean leeks - You need to thoroughly clean a leek because dirt can become trapped in its many layers. Trim the root portion right above the base (cutting too far up the stalk will remove the part that holds the layers together). Slice off the fibrous green tops, leaving only the white-to-light green stalk; discard greens. Cut the leek in half lengthwise, then cut according to your recipe (slice, chop or dice).
In a large soup pot over medium heat, saute the leeks, onions, and butter until tender. Stir in potatoes, vegetable or chicken broth, and salt. Increase heat and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and let cool 10 to 15 minutes.
In a food processor or blender, puree cooled mixture until smooth. The soup can be made 1 to 2 days in advance up until this stage. Refrigerate until ready to finish.
When ready to serve, return mixture to soup pot. Stir in milk and cream; cook over low heat, another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt. NOTE: Thin to desired consistency with the milk. Remove from heat and serve in soup bowls; garnish with chives.
This soup can be served either hot or cold.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
* Learn how easy it is to make your own homemade Chicken Stock - Basic Chicken Stock.