A Slightly Rogue Vichyssoise

An overhead view of a white bowl filled with pale green vichyssoise on a wood board. A glass of white wine, floral napkin and chives around it.

Classic, with a teensy-weensy twist. 

By Erin Henderson

Classic vichyssoise is a culinary marvel: it’s hedonistically delicious, but unlike other French dishes that require hours of cooking with special techniques and equipment, vichyssoise is shockingly simple to make with just a handful of ingredients.

You may also like: Nearly Classic Boeuf Bourguignon

Butter and cream, leeks and potatoes, butter, stock, salt, white pepper. And butter. But that’s it.

The internet is rife with a zillion recipes on the traditional version from Anthony Bourdain to Julia Child. Rest assured, these will all give you the classic pale, white-green chilled soup of your buttery dreams.

My version doesn’t stray too far from the original but does add a little bit of garlic, because I just can't resist, a splash of white wine and some lemon zest to liven up the creamy richness, and I use black pepper instead of the French-preferred white. Truth be told, I find white pepper smells like an animal cage, and I rather like the flecks of black against the pastel puree.

Vichyssoise

For me, Vichyssoise is a near-perfect spring offering. It can be dressed up as a starter for Easter dinner, or downsized for casual weekend brunches with a loaf of sourdough and crisp glass of white wine. 

Makes: about 2 ½ litres
Chef level: Easy
Special equipment: high speed blender

Ingredients:
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 3 large leeks, white and light green part only, washed well and sliced (about 8 cups)
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 4 cups)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 350ml heavy cream
  • Crème fraiche or Greek yogurt; chives and/or dill for garnish
How to Make It:
  1. In a large soup pot set over medium/med-low heat, melt the butter.
  2. When frothy, add the leeks and garlic, cooking until the leeks are soft, but still pale, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and gently season with salt and pepper, cooking for another minute or two.
  4. Add the potatoes and chicken stock, bring to a gentle boil, and then reduce the heat to low, until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool slightly for about 15 minutes.
  6. Add the lemon zest and stir into the soup. Adjust for salt and pepper, if necessary.
  7. Ladle the soup in batches into a blender. Leave the centre out of the lid so steam can escape (hot liquid can blow the lid off a blender), but lightly cover the hole with a dish towel so it doesn't spray everywhere. 
  8. Blitz the mixture until very smooth, about a minute, and pour into a clean bowl.
  9. Repeat with the remaining soup.
  10. When it’s all pureed, place in the fridge to chill.
  11. Just before serving, pour in the cream.
  12. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraiche or Greek yogurt and a mix of chives and dill.
Wine Pairing:

Vichyssoise is a dish that can be described as light but rich, with a delicate flavour base that hints at the verdant leek, but isn't overpowered by it, while the cream and potatoes make for a smooth and hearty texture. 

Here, I want a wine with silky texture that's at least medium bodied to stand up to the density of the soup. I also want a wine with some savoury flavours to echo the verdant notes of the leek, and a good amount of acidity to bring some lift to the vichyssoise. 

A dry Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) from France's Loire region, a northern Rhône white made from the Marsanne/Roussane grapes, Austrian Grüner Veltliner, or an Italian Verdicchio all have the weight, texture, and flavour profile to pair well. 

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