Few people realize that Vichyssoise, the cold potato leek soup with the French name, was invented, not in Paris or Lyons or even in Vichy, France, but in New York City at the beginning of the 20th Century.
It was 1917 and the fashionable Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Madison Avenue at 46th Street was about to open a new roof garden restaurant. The head chef was a Frenchman named Louis Diat (1885-1957). He often made a potato and leek soup from a recipe given him by his mother, Annette Alajoinine Diat, and he was preparing to serve it at a party celebrating the opening of the roof garden. Whether, according to legend, the soup, prepared in advance, wasn't re-heated in time to be served as a first course, or whether the day was warm and Chef-de-Cuisine Diat felt culinarily creative, he added cream to his mother's soup recipe and served it cold, sprinkled with chopped chives. He called it Creme Vichyssoise Glacee, or Chilled Cream Vichyssoise, in honor of the town where he was born.
The original Ritz-Carlton has long since been demolished but Vichyssoise lives on.
God Bless the Ritz Carlton and all of the special memories, events and amazing food that came from there.
Mmmmmmm....Vichyssoise, Some of us love it as it is cool and flavourful and creamy, as it should be. Some of us, such as our son, cannot wrap his head around a cold soup. To him, it just doesn't make sense. Bless his heart, in the summer he can expect to expand his tastebuds with wonderful soups like Avacado Soup, Cantelope Soup and many many more. He'll come around, I have faith!
Yesterday was one of those days I just happen to have all the right ingredients on hand, plus, of course, I still have poblanos growing like crazy. So this was my interpretation of Vichyssoise.
Roasted Poblano Vichyssoise with Lime adapted from a Gourmet Magazine Recipe
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and small diced
5 C. water
4 med. Leeks, green tops removed, white cut lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 med. onion, diced
1 Tbl unsalted butter
2 tsp kosher salt
2 C. milk
1 C. Heavy Cream
1 C. Half-and-half
4 lg poblano peppers, roasted and charred exterior removed along with stem and seeds, finely sliced into strips
1 C. Sour cream
1/4 C. fresh lime juice, or to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
Garnish: several thin slices of poblano and halved lime slices to float on top
Add potatoes with water,salt and poblanos, simmer, covered for about 40 minutes, or until potatoes are very soft. Add milk, cream and half-and-half and bring just to a boil, stirring.
In your amazing food processor (or my crappy one that leaks all over my counters) puree soup in batches. Return to clean soup pot. Stir in sour cream and lime juice.
At this point you can serve the soup hot, or you can chill it, covered until very cold and up to 1 day.
Hot or cold, serve soup garnished with remaining poblanos and slices of lime.
Enjoy, Approximately 10 cups.
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