Vichyssoise

Vichyssoise in a bowl

Leeks are plentiful at the farmers’ markets these days and I can’t resist them. I haven’t made or had Vichyssoise in years and just seeing those leeks, I couldn’t get the soup off my mind.

Leeks are a member of the allium family – onions, garlic, scallions. It’s long and thin (1 – 2 inches in diameter) and has dark green leaves on top and a light green to white bulb at the bottom. The amount of light green and white depends on how deeply the leek is planted in the soil to avoid direct sunlight.

vichyssoise - leek photo

Leeks grow deeply entrenched in a sandy soil and those outer layers trap the sand and require a thorough cleaning. Chopped leeks are relatively easy to clean. Just trim and discard the dark green tops and the root on the bottom. Cut in half lengthwise, slice into thin pieces, and plop into a big bowl of cold water. Swish the cut leeks around, pick up handfuls and gently rub together between your palms to separate the layers and loosen the dirt. Let sit for several seconds to allow the dirt to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Scoop into colander, rinse the bowl, and repeat. Drain.

Cooking time for root vegetables like potatoes vary according to the size of the chunks. After peeling, I usually cut them in half lengthwise and then into ½-inch slices. Once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle and in about 15 minutes the potatoes are tender. To test, gently press a cube against the side of the pan; it should easily break apart.

Bouquet garni is a combination of parsley (stems only are fine), thyme, and bay leaf, which are wrapped in cheesecloth or stuffed into a sachet bag for easy removal at the end of cooking. This method imparts the earthy flavors of the herbs and keeps the soup pristine.

bouquet garni

White peppercorns are commonly used for this dish – the thinking is no one wants to see little specks of black pepper in the beautiful white soup. I, however, am not a fan of white peppercorns – I find them very bitter. I use cayenne, which gives a subtle underlying heat that, in my opinion, neither white nor black peppercorns impart.

There are few ingredients in this soup and it comes together easily. As with so many recipes, the flavor is best after it sits overnight, giving a uniformly delicious mouthful with every spoonful. My husband and I finished this soup in two days. We were scraping the bottom of the bowl. It is very flavorful, and the texture is silky smooth.

Hot vs Cold

Vichyssoise is typically served chilled. Chilling mutes the taste and aroma of food, so it’s important to be aggressive when seasoning food you plan to serve cold. The recipe below gives the amount of salt and cayenne for both a cold soup and a hot soup.

Vichyssoise

Melt the butter in the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Stir in the cleaned leeks, garlic, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. This releases excess moisture and intensifies the flavor of the aromatics. Lower the heat a bit if the leeks are starting to brown.

leeks to saute

Add the potatoes, stock, and bouquet garni, bring to a boil, lower heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. The time varies depending on the size of the potato pieces. I cut my potato in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch slices.

Vichyssoise in saucepan

Remove and discard the bouquet garni and let the soup cool for 20 minutes.

To purée, fill a blender or food processor with both solids and liquid to the halfway point and process until completely smooth. See our post/video on How to Safely Blend Hot Ingredients.

Stir in the half-and-half or cream. If you prefer not to use dairy, use a cup of stock.

Vichyssoise in a bowl

Serve chilled or hot with a generous garnish of chopped chives.

Print

Vichyssoise

Delicious hot or cold, this soup has a silky texture and earthy flavor. The chopped chives are not only a beautiful visual element, but the flavor complements the soup nicely.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 quarts
  • Category: Soup

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups leeks, thinly sliced (about 1 ½ pounds whole leeks with generous white portions)
1 clove garlic minced
kosher salt:
Cold: 2 ½ teaspoons
Hot: 1 ½ teaspoons
¼ teaspoon cayenne
4 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups good quality chicken or vegetable stock, such as More Than Gourmet
1 bouquet garni
1 cup cream, half and half, or stock

Garnish
chopped fresh chives

Instructions

Melt the butter in the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Stir in the cleaned leeks, garlic, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. This releases excess moisture and intensifies the flavor of the aromatics. Lower the heat a bit if the leeks are starting to brown.

Add the potatoes, stock, and bouquet garni, bring to a boil, lower heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. The time varies depending on the size of the potato pieces. I cut my potato in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch slices.

Remove and discard the bouquet garni and let the soup cool for 20 minutes.

To purée, fill a blender or food processor with both solids and liquid to the halfway point and process until completely smooth. See our video on How to Safely Blend Hot Ingredients.

Stir in the half-and-half or cream. If you prefer not to use dairy, use a cup of stock.

Serve chilled or hot with a generous garnish of chopped chives.

Notes

Vichyssoise is typically served chilled. Chilling mutes the taste and aroma of food, so it’s important to be aggressive when seasoning food you plan to serve cold. The recipe below gives the amount of salt and cayenne for both a cold soup and a hot soup.

Keywords: cold soup, hot soup, potato leek soup, potatoes, leeks, soup, gluten free, dairy free

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