My husband maintains that he doesn’t like soup. But then he loves tortilla soup, and another we make in summer with roasted peppers and sumac. Plus, I distinctly remember him ordering a bowl of vichyssoise at the Gulf Stream Bath & Tennis last autumn when we were visiting his parents, and proclaiming it one of his favorite foodstuffs. Of course given the ingredients, leeks and potatoes, it makes total sense since my husband comes from Irish stock.
Then last weekend my dad called to say he was making a vichyssoise out of The Complete Joël Robuchon, a cookbook I’ve aggressively avoided because having enjoyed some truly spectacular meals at The Mansion in Vegas and L’Atelier in Paris, I was sure there was nothing inside that a mere mortal could possibly tackle. But then my dad shared the recipe, and it was so easy! I assembled the soup early in the afternoon so it could chill several hours, then we enjoyed with half a rotisserie chicken from the Grill Masters truck at Larchmont Farmer’s Market (we’d met John, the chicken master, the previous evening while he was catering a friend’s birthday party—awesome!), and a glass of Cotes-du-Rhone white wine. So simple, so satisfying.
On the advice of my father, who thought the soup was slightly too thin, I tweaked the recipe, using 1 lb of fingerlings instead of 3/4 lbs of “firm fleshed potatoes” as the recipe calls for. Fingerlings are kind of buttery, so they were great in the soup. Yukon Golds would be good, too. Also, there wasn’t any chervil at the farmer’s market, which you should absolutely use if you can find. And finally, I didn’t have any traditional parsley so used flat-leaf Italian.
Crème Vichyssoise Glacée
Adapted from The Complete Joël Robuchon
2 large leeks
1 lb. fingerling potatoes, peeled, halved
2 tablespoons butter
1 sprig fresh thyme
3 branches fresh parsley
6 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
Minced chives and chervil for garnish
Slice the white parts of leeks (note: I used part of the light green stalk as well) in half. Wash them and slice into 1/2-inch half moons.
Take parsley and thyme and tie with a green leek leaf to make a bouquet garni.
Melt butter in cast iron pot and add leeks. Cook over low heat, stirring and not allowing leeks or butter to color, about 3 minutes.
Add water and bring to a boil. When the water bubbles, add 1 tablespoon coarse salt, bouquet garni, and the potatoes. Simmer for 25-35 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
Remove the bouquet garni. Blend soup well in batches. Add the cream and blend again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the soup to cool and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Sprinkle with chives and chervil and serve.