What is Vichyssoise?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 February 2019
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Vichyssoise is a French-inspired soup made with potatoes and leeks. It's served cold, and it may be garnished with snipped chives or parsley. This classic French-style soup is very easy to make at home, and many people find it enjoyable hot as well as cold, although purists may frown on serving the soup warm. It is also available in many some restaurants and cafes, especially those with French pretensions.

Despite the name, vichyssoise is not “of Vichy” at all. The soup appears to have been the invention of Louis Diat, a famous chef who worked at the Ritz Carlton in New York. Diat claimed to have developed the soup in 1917, crediting a potato and leek soup from his childhood which he liked to cool with milk. The combination of pureed potatoes, leeks, and cream is hardly Earth-shattering, and people have probably been making various versions of this soup for centuries, although Diat may have been the first to serve it intentionally cold.

Incidentally, the name of this soup is pronounced “vish-ee-swaz,” not “vish-ee-swah,” as many people mistakenly pronounce it. Some films have made a joke out of the mispronunciation of this soup, along with the fact that it is served cold, suggesting that people without culture will be surprised when their soup arrives at the table cold. Vichyssoise has also been credited as the introduction to French-style cuisine by many people, including some famous cooks.


There are a number of ways to play around with this soup, for people who are feeling bold. For example, cooks can use toasted crostini, shredded dried fish, sour cream, crispy fried leeks, or even pickled beets as a garnish. The flavor of the soup can also be adjusted with various spices, such as nutmeg for a hint of sweetness.

If you're interested in making a batch of vichyssoise for yourself, start by frying some sliced leeks and onions in oil and a small amount of butter. Add loosely chopped potatoes and chicken or vegetable stock. Boil until the ingredients are soft before adding cream or a non-dairy alternative for vegans, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Puree everything before serving, and garnish as desired.


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Post 6
It's true that there were potato leek soups with cream and butter that were made much before. But like the article mentioned, Diat was the first one to serve this soup cold and that is why he gets credit for vichyssoise.

I think the controversy over this soup is not really who made it first, but at what date it was first served cold. The date was probably after 1917. It's mentioned in Diat's memoirs that he had a farmer grow leeks for him in New York because no one grew leeks at that time. So vichyssoise probably didn't enter recipe books until much later.

Post 5

So is Vichy a place in France?

If vichyssoise has nothing to do with Vichy, why was it called this? I still don't understand the origin of this soup.

Post 4

I had this soup as a first course of a meal recently. It was surprising for me because it was served cold and I had never had cold soup before.

It was delicious but I still think I would have preferred it served warm. Cold soup is a new concept to me altogether. I also think that the flavors of the soup didn't come out too well when it was served cold. I think it would have tasted even better hot but it's just my opinion.

Post 3

I just can't get behind the idea of cold soup. I don't know why, because I'm not the kind of person who dismisses new meals out of hand, but I just don't like cold savory soups, the same way I don't really fancy the idea of savory ice cream.

I try everything once, so I might have a look at a recipe for this soup, but I would reserve the right to heat it up if I didn't like it cold.

Of course, heated up it would probably be called something completely different, like gazpacho that has been heated is basically just tomato soup (although to my mind, gazpacho in general is just a particularly meaty tomato juice).

Post 2

@browncoat - It's a decent recipe to keep on hold when vegetarian or vegan friends come over for dinner. Vegan vichyssoise works quite well if you use a rich oil when frying the onions and something else, like soy milk, to substitute the cream. Just be careful not to use something like coconut milk, because it can definitely influence the flavors.

Post 1

Oh my gosh this sounds delicious. And there is never enough recipes to use up leeks when they are in season. I always get one (or more usually two, since the supermarket tends to do a two for one deal in season) to use in a recipe and it ends up only calling for a small amount. So, I'm stuck with a massive amount of leeks and just end up putting a little bit into every meal.

It's good to sneak vegetables into meals, of course, but leeks are quite a distinct flavor and it can end up making everything taste the same.

I'm definitely going to try some vichyssoise soup, probably with some bacon, because that sounds really amazing.

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