|Good Old Fashioned Baking Potatoes
are best for making Vichyssoise
Now anyone who knew my Mother would be very skeptical that she actually made her own Vichyssoise. She was of the Campbell’s Soup School of Cooking, which held that if someone else made a perfectly reasonable bowl of soup that happened to come in a can, there was absolutely no reason for her to do so. This led me to check our local supermarket to see if I could discover the source of my Mother’s version of the soup. Much to my astonishment, they don’t make Vichyssoise. However, they do make Cream of Potato Soup so I think I did uncover the source of my mother’s recipe. Because in truth, that’s pretty much what Vichyssoise is.
|Louis Diat, the inventor of Vichyssoise|
A recipe for a hot potato and leek soup dates back to a French chef called Jules Gouffé who then published a version in The Royal Cookery Book (1869). Louis Diat, the chef at New York City’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel, claimed to enjoy that particular soup as a young child. In 1950, Diat told The New Yorker magazine: “In the summer of 1917, when I had been at the Ritz seven years, I reflected upon the potato-and-leek soup of my childhood that my mother and grandmother used to make. I recalled how, during the summer, my older brother and I used to cool it off by pouring in cold milk and how delicious it was. I resolved to make something of the sort for the patrons of the Ritz.” Thus was born Vichyssoise, which the chef named after the spa town of Vichy close to Diat’s birthplace in France. It’s the simplest of recipes and produces an absolutely flawless version of the soup—the flavor of the leeks is more pronounced than I ever remember in my Mother’s version but the cool creaminess brings back a flood of memories of the summer nights when we would eat dinner on our terrace watching the first fireflies come to life with the setting sun. Here is the recipe:
* Vegetarians feel free to use Vegetable stock but in my experience, chicken stock makes the best Vichyssoise.