A Summer Soup


Leeks, basil and garlic from my garden. Mmm.

Vichyssoise is not only the simplest soup I know, it is also one of the best. It’s so simple I can’t really ‘own’ the recipe, as my vichyssoise is probably identical to Julia Child’s and Anthony Bourdain’s and everybody else’s too. Bourdain, incidentally, credits his lifelong interest in cookery to his discovery, at age 9, of vichyssoise. Read Kitchen Confidential. It’s a hoot.

The soup was supposedly invented at the New York Ritz-Carlton by chef Louis Diat, but I think it’s reliably certain that peasants everywhere boiled leeks and potatoes together since the plants were domesticated. Diat simply added cream and served it chilled.


Leeks (1 big or two small)

Potatoes (2 or three, depending on size)

Chicken stock (you can just use salt, but I like chicken stock)


Chop the vegies and simmer them in the stock for about 45 minutes until they are tender. Puree the lot in a blender. Add a splash or two of cream, a grind of pepper, and if it needs salt, it’s a good idea to oversalt it very slightly as dishes tend to lose their savor when cold. Chill it. It is so tasty I’ll drink it for breakfast.

You can, if you are a purist, use only the white part of the leeks, but I like the pungency of the green and the tint it provides. You can peel your potatoes and push the soup through a sieve to make it super-smooth, but I like the texture. You can garnish it with chives, which is traditional, but I never seem to have any chives. I can’t stand those little plastic packets of herbs you get at the supermarket. They cost about five bucks which is a lot to pay for what is essentially a weed.


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