Wasabi Vichyssoise


 

A version with nutmeg

Vichyssoise  (vih-she-swaz) or chilled potato and leek soup is a classic French soup. Smooth, silky and refreshingly cool, it is perfectly paired on those hot summer evenings with a chilled glass of Chenin Blanc or other white wine.

The origin of vichyssoise is unclear, but a French chef who worked at the Ritz-Carlton in New York City is often credited with creating this classic chilled soup a hundred years ago. Julia Child has also called it an American invention, although hot potato and leek soup with cream has been made in France since at least the mid-eighteenth century.

Regardless of the origin, it is a very easy soup to make. All it takes are some potatoes, leeks, chicken stock, cream and some seasoning. The version below uses wasabi to add just a hint of heat, but you can easily substitute a little nutmeg for a different accent. As for garnishes, let your imagination be your guide. I typically use crumbled croutons and chives, but I have also used crispy pancetta, a little crème fraîche or parsley.

One of the great things about vichyssoise is that it can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. Then, it’s easy to take out and serve up as an impromptu soup or appetizer if guests come over. On that note, bon appétit!

Wasabi Vichyssoise (Potato Leek Soup)
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 medium Yukon gold potato, peeled and cubed (about 6 oz.)
  • 1 medium leek, white parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced (about 3 oz. or 1 cup)
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream + 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, ground
  • dash kosher salt, or to taste

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Once butter is melted add thinly sliced leeks and shallots. Sauté, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until leeks are softened, seeing that the leeks do not turn color (i.e. don’t let them brown).
  2. Add chicken stock and cubed potatoes, bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes begin to fall apart.
  3. Let cool slightly, then using an immersion blender, purée the vegetables until smooth.
  4. Return soup to low heat and whisk in cream, milk, salt, white pepper and wasabi. Bring to a light simmer, taste and adjust salt, pepper and wasabi as needed. Soup should be the consistency of heavy cream. If too thick, add more milk to thin.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool, ideally over an ice bath. Once cooled, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. Vichyssoise can be made up to a week in advance.
  6. To serve, bring soup up to just below room temperature and serve in chilled bowls. Garnish with croutons and chives, or crispy diced pancetta.
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