What Is Vichyssoise?
Nothing More Than a
Simple Leek and Potato Soup

Pronounced VEE-shee-shwaz, vichyssoise is a simple leek and potato soup. Serve it hot on cold days and cold on hot days. Either way, it is simply sublime.

For eons, I shunned vichyssoise (pronounced VEE-shee-shwaz, don’t leave off the last z sound). Its name somehow conjured rotten fish. Its French origin sounded fussy.

So wrong! Vichyssoise is a simple soup, ever-so-delicious served cold when it’s hot – and hot when it’s cold!

It’s easy for novice cooks to master. Better still, the same techniques apply to other homemade soups.

EASY HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK There are more complicated ways to make stock but this shortcut works. For supper one night, enjoy a grocery-store rotisserie chicken. Then cover the carcass with water in a large pot, cover and simmer for an hour. Refrigerate overnight. Skim off the fat and pick off the remaining meat for sandwiches or chicken salad. When heated and strained, the gelatinous stuff remaining turns into a rich, flavorful broth. Freeze it for later or refrigerate for up to two days before using. If you like, this recipe for Homemade Chicken Stock has more detail.

ALANNA's TIPS Vichyssoise has so few ingredients that quality really counts. This means that canned broth and bouillon cubes are acceptable, not preferable, substitutes for homemade stock. Leeks collect grit while growing so need careful cleaning. Cut off the root end, then the leaves where they turn dark (peel a layer of dark leaves to find more white and light-green parts). Halve the leek lengthwise, then separate the whorls and wash under running water. (Here's an illustrated guide on how to clean leeks.) No food processor? No problem, just mash with a spoon. The texture will be different but the taste the same.

KITCHEN LESSON: VICHYSSOISE

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour but better after 24 hours
Make 5 cups
  • 3 cups homemade chicken stock (see recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large leek, white and light-green parts only, cleaned (see ALANNA’s TIPS) and cut in half moons
  • 1 pound russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup half ‘n’ half (fat-free half ‘n’ half works too) or cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Milk to thin, if needed
  • Fresh chive, chopped for garnish

Bring the broth to a boil in the microwave. (This step saves time but can be skipped if there’s no rush.)

In a large pot, melt the butter til shimmery on medium high. Add the leek, stir to coat with butter, then cook gently til leek begins to soften, stirring often. Add the potato and hot broth, bring to a boil and cover. Adjusting heat to maintain a slow simmer, let simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor, in batches if needed, filling no more than halfway. Process til smooth and return to pot. Stir in half ‘n’ half. Season with salt and pepper.

SERVE & SAVOR Preferably, refrigerate for 24 hours. If serving hot, rewarm on low heat but do not allow to boil. If serving cold, thin with milk if needed. Spoon into serving bowls and garnish with chive.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Cup made with half & half: 175 Calories; 8g Tot Fat; 5g Sat Fat; 22g Carb; 2g Fiber; 370mg Sodium; 24mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 4 points

LATER NOTES
Russet potatoes are some times called 'baking potatoes' or 'Idaho potatoes'. Their are often quite large, their skins are rough and their flesh is mealy.
Please be careful when putting hot liquids into a blender.
In 2010, I made a particularly good pot of vichyssoise with the ham stock made from leftover from Twice-Smoked Ham. The leeks and potatoes are so smooth and delicate yet can manage a strongly flavored stock.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Share your story of a once-avoided food via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture.

More Recipes for Simple Soups

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Winter Tomato Soup Easy-to-Elegant Asparagus Soup Homemade Mushroom Soup
~ more soup recipes ~

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Funny - I've been craving Vichyssoise. Thank you for the nudge. I'm going to make some this weekend.
 
When I left home I moved to a suburb of Washington DC for a year. Next door to the store I worked at was a fantastic natural foods market with an awesome deli. About once a week I would head over for a simple lunch of a cup of vichyssoise and a small baguette. It always made me smile and gave me a boost for the rest of the day.

I love vichyssoise. Not only is it delicious and hearty, but it always stirs up great memories when I have it.
 
Gosh, Alanna, you make it sound so easy! I always thought vichyssoise was an exotic difficult-to-make soup. No more! Thank you!
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna