Vichyssoise Soup Recipe

Vichyssoise is a creamy French classic soup. Traditionally it's a mix of pureed leeks, potatoes and chicken stock, but you can substitute vegetable stock and make this soup vegetarian. Served cold it is awesome on a hot afternoon and here it's piled high with watercress on top, so you can get your soup and salad in one.

Vichyssoise Soup Recipe
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  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 leeks
  • 2 pounds red or white potatoes
  • 2 bunches watercress
  • 2 1/4 quarts (9 cups) low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ground white pepper
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • grated zest of 1 scrubbed lemon
  • 2 tablespoons finely snipped fresh chives
  1. Place a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes (do not allow to brown). Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes more.
  2. Add half of the watercress and cook, stirring, just until wilted, about 3 minutes more. Add the broth, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, partially covered, until the vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. In batches, process the soup in a blender or food processor until very smooth. (Hold the top of the blender firmly with a folded towel to prevent an explosion of hot soup.)
  4. Transfer the soup to a large bowl. Stir in the half-and-half and 1/2 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours ( or overnight). Refrigerate the remaining bunch of watercress separately.
  5. Chill wide, shallow bowls. Taste the soup for seasoning and adjust with salt, pepper, and lemon juice as necessary.
  6. Just before serving, toss the remaining watercress with the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Ladle into the chilled bowls and place a mound of the watercress salad on top. Scatter with a pinch each of lemon zest and chives, and serve immediately.
  8. I always prepare the vichyssoise the day before, then let it chill overnight. This ahead-of-time preparation lets me enjoy quality time with our children, and the flavor of the soup definitely improves!
  9. Remember that cold mixtures require more aggressive seasoning with salt and pepper than hot mixtures. Taste before seasoning and adjust to your family’s taste.
  10. For a more elegant and special occasion, I like to serve this pale soup in delicate white wine glasses. In this case, omit the watercress salad topping (in other words, you will only need 1 bunch of watercress, and quantity of lemon juice and olive oil will be reduced). Then, after ladling the soup carefully into the glasses, garnish each one with a pinch each of chopped chives and lemon zest.
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