November 18th is National Vichyssoise Day, a day to enjoy a bowl of the cold soup made from puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock. Culinary historians aren’t sure when vichyssoise was first invented, but one legend gives credit to King Louis XV. The French king unwittingly started a trend for cold soup because he was so afraid of being poisoned that he required his servants to sample his food before he dined, often resulting in a cold bowl of his favorite potato leek soup. Louis Diat, a chef at New York City’s Ritz-Carlton, is more often credited with the 1917 invention of Vichyssoise. He made the soup for the Ritz’s menu after reflecting on the soups his mother and grandmother made during his childhood, and recalling how he and his brother used to cool the soup by pouring fresh milk into the mix. He recreated the beloved soup from his childhood and named it after Vishy, France, a town close to his home town.
While we were preparing for this “unofficial” Chris revealed to me that he didn’t know what leeks are. I was a little surprised, as I’m sure he must’ve eaten at least a leek and potato soup at some point in his life — it’s so good! And leeks are really pretty awesome. When I was in high school I had to prepare a four course french meal for an assignment for French class and the recipe I chose was some sort of roasted chicken surrounded by leeks and potatoes. After that my mom and I started making steamed leeks every once in awhile and I grew to love a vegetable I might have never discovered had it not been for my boring french classes. Well, I guess I wouldn’t have discovered it until today, that is.
It’s been a long time since my mom or I have made anything with leeks so I was excited to enjoy them again for National Vichyssoise Day. Since vichyssoise is meant to be served cold, last night while I was making homemade bread Chris chopped all of the potatoes with our trusty food processor, diced some onions, and cooked them with the leaks and chicken stock. When he was finished simmering the mixture he puréed it in the blender and put the soup base in the refrigerator so it would be ready for today’s celebration. Doing the prep work ahead of time turned out to be great — it allowed us to spend the evening hanging out with my brother and sister-in-law instead of toiling in kitchen. We had a great evening watching Adult Swim cartoons with Clint and Carolyn, and returned home just in time for a late night snack of Vichssoise. We removed the cold soup from our beautifully clean refrigerator, mixed in the cream, and topped it with chives. I don’t eat cold soup very often but I must say our vichyssoise was delicious.
Chris and I really deserved our fun evening of hanging out after all of our hard work in the kitchen last night. And tomorrow we’re going to keep the spirit of fun alive on National Day of Play.