The true origin of vichyssoise [\ˌvi-shē-ˈswäz, ˌvē-\] soup is disputed. A more flavored version of the story is that King Louis XV of France enjoyed potato soup for dinner frequently. His paranoia led him to order a number of his servants to taste his food before he ate it. By the time the potato soup finally reached King Louis, the soup had already gotten cold. He liked it that way, and that’s how the French came to eat cold potato soup.
Julia Child calls vichyssoise an American invention. Why? Because Louis Diat, chef at the Ritz-Carlton in New York is credited with creating the cold potato leek soup in 1917. Presumably, anything that is invented in America is considered an “American invention” no matter the race or ethnicity of the creator. Louis Diat told the New Yorker magazine in 1950:
In the summer of 1917, when I had been at the Ritz seven years, I reflected upon the potato and leek soup of my childhood which my mother and grandmother used to make. I recalled how during the summer my older brother and I used to cool it off by pouring in cold milk and how delicious it was. I resolved to make something of the sort for the patrons of the Ritz.
Regardless of who invented it, vichyssoise is a delicious soup. A classic and refreshing soup. Here is a recipe from Julia Child’s The Way to Cook:
- 4 cups sliced leeks, whites only
- 4 cups diced potatoes old or baking potatoes recommended
- 6 to 7 cups cold water
- 1½ to 2 teaspoons coarse salt or to taste
- 1/2 cup or more sour cream, heavy cream, or crème fraîche, optional
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives or parsley
- Bring the leeks, potatoes and water to boil in the saucepan. Salt lightly, cover partially, and simmer 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Purée the soup if you wish. Taste, and correct seasoning. After chilling the soup, you may wish to stir in a little more cream. Taste carefully again, and correct the seasoning. Top each serving with a sprinkle of chives or parsley.