Last summer a number of our friends visited Paris and we had a chance to visit each other and enjoy this wonderful city together. One of our friends decided we should have a reunion here at home with a French dinner that we would all participate in. We chose to make a first dish and decided on vichyssoise. Vichyssoise is made with leeks, potatoes and cream and is served cold. It can be prepared the day before making it easy to transport and most importantly leaving you free to enjoy the party.
It was created by Chef Louis Diet (1885-1957) who worked at the Ritz hotels in Paris and New York according to the Internet. History tells another story about King Louis XV of France (15 February 1710 –1774) accidentally invented vichyssoise. The paranoid King loved his comforting potato soup but 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. Well whatever the story, it is a hardy soup that can be served in any weather.
The following is my husband’s recipe.
2 lbs Leeks, white and pale yellow parts only (requires approx. 3 lbs. of leeks the way they are sold)
1 lb Potatoes (Yukon gold or Idaho)
1 1/2 cups Heavy cream
2 tbsp. Butter
Fresh white pepper
Thoroughly wash the leeks. Do this in two steps: first cut the white part off about 1/2 inch from the place where the outer leave splits.
Cut the white part into half lengthwise and then cut into 1” pieces and put them in a large bowl of water.
Split the remaining part of the leeks lengthwise. Discard the green leaves and separate the pale yellow leaves. Cut them into small pieces and add them to the bowl of water. Keep the leeks in the water for at least 30 minutes to get all the dirt out. This step is critical as the dirt must be removed from the inside the leaves completely.
Melt the butter in a large pan and add the leeks sautéing them for 2 minutes. Add 2 quarts of water, slightly salted and bring to a boil.
Add the potato cubes and simmer for 30 minutes.
Transfer the leeks and the potatoes to a blender, using a slotted spoon. Reserve the cooking liquid.
Add the cream and blend adding as much cooking liquid required to reach the thickness you desire.
Season it with white pepper and salt.
Chill the Vichyssoise in the refrigerator over night.
Take the Vichyssoise out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Decorate with chopped chives.
Note: Many recipes call for a larger quantity of potatoes. In my opinion this turns the Vichyssoise into a potato soup and you lose the delicate flavor of the cooked leeks. The 2 to 1 ratio (net weight) of leeks to potatoes give the best results.