Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Potato and Leek Soup/Vichyssoise

It's in debate as to whether or not that Potato and Leek Soup/Vichyssoise is of American or French origin.  Many sources credit Louis Diat of the Ritz-Carlton in NYC as having invented it in 1917 for a roof-top garden restaurant, and it would have been served cold.  Vichyssoise is named after the town of Vichy, which is near where Diat grew up.  I guess you could say that both schools of thought are right since it was a French chef who invented it in NYC.  If it's served hot, it's called Potato and Leek Soup and if it's served cold it's called Vichyssoise.

In my research, I found an awful lot of hullabaloo about something that should be simple and quick to make.  Many recipes call for chicken stock, whole pepper corns, buttermilk, French sea salt, herbs, and you name it.  My take on Potato and Leek Soup is, why guild the lily?  What's wrong with the delicious flavor of potatoes and leeks simmered together and finished with a touch of delicious fresh cream?  Here is a simple, and if I do say so myself, elegant take on the soup that you can set to simmer on the back burner while you putter around the house.  Serve it cold in the summer, and hot in the winter.  It makes a great lunch, first course, or a fabulous late night snack.  Best of all, it's cheap, highly nutritious, and low calorie!

CQ's Potato and Leek Soup

4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 bunch of leeks, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
heavy cream
  1. Combine the potatoes, leeks, and bay leaf in a heavy soup pot.  Cover with water and salt liberally.
  2. Bring to a boil and hold for about twenty minutes to cook the potatoes.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for about another hour.
  3. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth and velvety.
  4. Bring back up to serving temperature on the burner, correct the seasoning with salt and pepper, and finish with a little heavy cream.
  5. Serve hot or cold.
tip: if you're serving this cold, you may want to cut back on the cream and add a little more salt.

With wine: Fino or Manzanilla Sherry would make an excellent accompaniment to this dish.  Soups are difficult to pair because they tend to coat the palete, but by choosing a fortified wine that is rich in alcohol, you are balancing out that "coating" quality.  I also like the fresh almost saline quality of a good Fino or Manzanilla against the savory quality of the leeks.  If Sherry isn't your thing, try a Muscadet from the Loire or an Australian Riesling for equally delicious results.


  1. Talk about simple, when I was at Al Forno we served an even simpler version - red potatoes sliced, leeks sauteed in butter, water salt & pepper. That was it, and it was incredible.

  2. MMM. I am going to try this soon with our local and seasonal PNW taters and leeks! How do you feel about adding a bit of celery root? I do this sometimes with soups of the potato variety. You're awesome, Greg - I love this blog! - xo Alicia

  3. I love celery root... I think it would make an excellent addition to the soup. Thanks for the compliment and thanks for reading!