With the plethora of inventive cuisines and creative concoctions we are exposed to in our current food-centric society, sadly we sometimes overlook the tried and true. Like the root cellar itself, these classic recipes have deliciously withstood the test of time.
The origins of this savory soup are a subject of debate among culinary historians. Julia Child called it “an American invention.” A French chef at the Ritz Carlton in New York City is most often credited with its (re)invention during the summer of 1917. He crafted it after the potato leek soups of his childhood, over which he and his brother poured cold milk to enjoy in the hot summer months. The name came from Vichy, a village in France close to his childhood home.
Now served as a chilled soup, this delicious recipe is also comforting served piping hot during the chilly months. We recently served it this way at a soup benefit and as it quickly disappeared, a special guest requested a helping to go. He expressed his concern that the heavenly liquid would never make it home, as he didn’t think he had the willpower to resist glugging it right out of the container. It’s that good. Glad to report that it (and he) made it back to his family unconsumed. And there were no “driving while souped” tickets issued.
2 cups potatoes, peeled and finely diced
4 tablespoons butter
6 leeks, cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of fresh ground nutmeg
1½ to 2 cups sour cream or heavy cream
Finely chopped chives
1. Place the potatoes in a pot with enough salted water to cover. Cook until just tender (Always start potatoes and water together. Adding them once the water is boiling results in uneven cooking).
2. Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the leeks gently, tossing them lightly, for a few minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the leeks until tender. Add the cooked potatoes and season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
3. Put this mixture in a blender (you will need to blend it in two batches) and blend for one minute, or until smooth. If you are choosing to serve in the traditional manner, this is the time to chill. Either way, when ready to serve, mix in sour cream or heavy cream. Check for seasoning and add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Garnish with chopped chives. If you really want to garner some well-earned cholesterol points, add a handful of crumbled crispy bacon.