Eat This: Vichyssoise
August 02 2015
Culinary historians can’t seem to agree whether vichyssoise (say vee-shee-swahz) is an American or a French invention—it was most likely first whipped up at the Ritz-Carlton in NYC by a French chef. Whatever the case, it is a simple hot weather staple you should definitely add to your summer repertoire.
Though it is most often eaten cold, it can also be enjoyed warm well into the winter months. It pairs well with crisp white chardonnays, dry rosés and even good weiss beers.
– About 8 good leeks.
– 3 medium or two large potatoes of any variety. Russets work well, or try the purple variety for a nice color variation.
– Two cups heavy cream.
– A half stick good quality salted butter. Président brand is a solid French standby readily available in many American supermarkets.
– 2 cups of chicken stock with some extra for thinning out soup to desired consistency.
– Whole nutmeg. Ground works too, but is less flavorful.
– Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.
– A bunch of fresh chives.
As with any self-respecting French(ish) dish, a good vichyssoise takes time—mostly because it requires a fair bit of sitting to allow its flavors to develop fully. If you’re in a hurry, cool downs can be done more quickly in the freezer.
Skin potatoes and cut into 1″ cubes. Chop leeks, retaining only the white portions. Discard the green ends and roots. Simmer until leeks and potatoes with 2 cups chicken stock in a heavy-bottomed pot until they are soft enough to smash with a whisk—a similar consistency as when preparing mashed potatoes. This should take about 30 minutes.
Warning: for the following step it is imperative that you either use an immersion blender or wait until the cooked leeks and potatoes are cool—blending hot liquid can make for some pretty spectacular kitchen incidents, not to mention nasty burns.
Immersion blender: carefully blend mixture until silky smooth with no lumps—think cake batter. Add additional chicken stock as needed to thin out soup to desired consistency.
Conventional blender: allow mixture to cool to room temperature or place pot in refrigerator until sufficiently cool. Blend until silky smooth in two batches, adding additional chicken stock as needed to thin out soup to desired consistency.
Return to pot and fold in cream with large whisk until entirely blended and add salt and nutmeg. You may also wish to add additional chicken stock at this point to reduce thickness as desired.
Return pot to low heat and allow to simmer for an addition 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Allow to cool to room temperature, cover and place in the refrigerator until well chilled.
Serve with a splash of good quality extra virgin olive oil, a generous dash of fresh chives and freshly cracked black pepper.
Vichyssoise keeps well in the fridge for about a week. Its flavor becomes even richer and more complex after a couple of days.