Vichyssoise is a chilled leek and potato soup. It’s French, right? Maybe or maybe not. It depends upon which story you believe. The story I prefer is that the French head chef in a Michelin-starred restaurant prepared a leek-and-potato soup for a large diner party. He was not going to be able to be present during the dinner party, so he put the soup in the refrigerator to chill. He told the assistant , “The soup is in the refrigerator. When it’s time to serve it, take it out of the refrigerator, add some cream, heat it up, and serve it.” The assistant chef didn’t hear the ‘heat it up’ part. Later that evening he returned and learned out the assistant’s mistake and was enraged. He went into the dining hall to visit each table and apologize. Guest after quest however praised the soup and wanted to know what it was. The head chef thought fast and called it ‘vichyssoise’. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Here in Arizona, we tend to prepare Gazpacho, but Vichyssoise is a nice change, and it’s easy to make. This version of the recipe calls for half-and-half instead of cream. The half-and-half is used to thin the soup a bit and cream would not do that. I also think the cream is too rich for an already rich soup.
1 Onion, finely chopped
4 Leeks, white part only, chopped
2 Russet Potatoes, diced
Bouquet Garni (see below)
1 Clove garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper
1/2 Cup Half-and-Half
4 cups Chicken stock
Make the Bouquet Garni
On a square of cheesecloth, place some thyme sprigs, parsley stems, a bay leaf, and a small handful of peppercorns. Gather the four corners of the cheesecloth up and tie them with string so that you have a bundle.
Making the Soup
In butter over low heat, sweat the onion and leeks. Do not let them brown.
Add the garlic, Salt, Pepper, and Bouquet Garni.
Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are tender.
Puree in a blender until smooth.
Chill the mixture in the refrigerator
Add enough half-and-half to achieve the desired consistence. (I prefer it to be a bit thick). Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish each bowl with a small parsley sprig.
Note: It is very filling.