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Updated: Oct 8
Two simple creamy delicious and easy to make soups. One served hot and the other served cold!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 60 minutes
Serves 8 to 12 people
Two soups. One recipe.
"Leek Soup", "Leek Potato Soup", "Irish Potato Leek Soup", 'Vichyssoise"... there are many names for this soup. But whether it is served hot or cold, this soup is simply delicious.
Simple fresh ingredients create the best dishes. These two soups are a good example of those dishes. Leeks, potatoes, cream, and herbs make this soup a favorite of mine. In this recipe I will show you how to make both Leek Potato Soup and its alter ego: Vichyssoise.
Fall and Winter are approaching in the Northern Hemisphere and with them cold rainy days and snowy night. When the weather turns, there is nothing more perfect that a nice hot bowl of Leek Potato Soup. It seems to make things right even on the cloudiest or coldest day. And in the Southern Hemisphere, Spring and Summer will be making their entrance, with bright and sunny hot days! Perfect for a cold bowl of Vichyssoise!
I first had Leek Potato Soup in the village of Drumnadrochit, on the northern shore of Loch Ness in Scotland, just south of Inverness. I liked the simplicity of it. You could tell it had humble origins as a peasant meal. It was very comforting, specially after spending a few hours out in the Sottish weather exploring the ruins of Urquhart Castle. Right away, my mind began to think up ways to make it my own...which I did. If you have followed and tried any of my recipes, you know by know I love flavor...lots of it! This soup is no different. I have packed a lot of flavor while honoring the traditional recipe... as much as possible. lol
It wasn't long until I realized that Leek Potato Soup and Vichyssoise were relatively the same thing. So, why not make one simple recipe for both soups?
What is the flavor profile?
Creamy with subtle hints of leeks, onions, garlic, and herbs.
What ingredients will I need to make this soup?
Leeks, russet potatoes, onions (if making Vichyssoise), cream, unsalted butter, vegetable broth, marjoram, bay leaves, fresh thyme, garlic, salt, pepper, and fresh chives.
What else will I need to make this dish?
A large pot, measuring cups and spoons, a cutting board, a knife, and a wooden spoon.
Can I make substitutions?
You can substitute the butter with either margarine, olive oil, or the vegetable oil of your choice. Instead of chives, you can use green onions or dill. If you want to make this dish vegan, substitute the heavy cream with a vegan substitute of your choice (click here for more information).
What are leeks?
The leek is a vegetable, a cultivar of Allium ampeloprasum, the broadleaf wild leek. The edible part of the plant is a bundle of leaf sheaths that is sometimes erroneously called a stemor stalk. The genus Allium also contains the onion, garlic, shallot, scallion, chive, and Chinese onion. Three closely related vegetables, elephant garlic, kurrat and Persian leek or tareh, are also cultivars of A. ampeloprasum, although different in their uses as food.
Aren't Leek Potato Soup and Vichyssoise the same thing?
Well...yes and no. They both have almost the same ingredients, same cooking process, and same results. However, although they are almost identical, Vichyssoise has onions while Leek Potato Soup does not.
What are the origins of Leek Potato Soup and Vichyssoise?
Depending what you call it, and the temperature you serve it at, you will discover different origins stories about the soup.
Leek Potato Soup
Leek Potato Soup is a soup based on potatoes, leeks, broth (usually chicken), and heavy cream. Other ingredients used may be salt, pepper, and various spices. Generally the potatoes are diced and cooked in broth, while the leeks are chopped and sautéed. After this, all ingredients are combined and stirred. Chives may be used for garnish.
Leek soup is traditionally associated with Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and is an important item of Welsh cuisine. In Romania, this soup is popular and known as Ciorbă de praz, and in France it is called Soupe aux poireaux.
Recipes for soup made of pureed leeks and potatoes were common by the 19th century in France. In 19th-century cookbooks, and still today, they are often named "Potage Parmentier" or "Potage à la Parmentier" after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, the French nutritionist and scholar who popularized the use of potatoes in France in the 18th Century. The French military cookbook of 1938 includes a recipe for "Potage Parmentier for 100 men" using milk instead of cream but with proportions and directions that are similar to the recipe for "Vichyssoise Soup" given later by Julia Child.
The origins of the name Vichyssoise are a subject of debate among culinary historians; one version of the story is that Louis XV of France was afraid of being poisoned and had so many servants taste the potato leek soup that, by the time he tried it, the soup was cold, and since he enjoyed it that way it became a cold soup. Julia Child called it "an American invention", whereas others observe that "the origin of the soup is questionable in whether it's genuinely French or an American creation".
Louis Diat, a French chef at the Ritz-Carlton in New York City who grew up in Montmarault in the Allier department near the spa resort town of Vichy, is most often credited with its reinvention. In 1950, Diat told The New Yorker magazine:
'"n the summer of 1917, when I had been at the Ritz seven years, I reflected upon the potato and leek soup of my childhood which my mother and grandmother used to make. I recalled how during the summer my older brother and I used to cool it off by pouring in cold milk and how delicious it was. I resolved to make something of the sort for the patrons of the Ritz."
The same article explains that the soup was first called Crème Vichyssoise Glacée, after the spa town. In 1930 the restaurant's menu changed from French to English, whereupon it was called Cream Vichyssoise Glacée.
Let's Make it!
2 pounds of leeks (finely sliced)
1 large yellow onion (if making Vichyssoise)
3 pounds of russet potatoes (peeled, cubed)
4 cloves of garlic (peeled, crushed)
8 cups of Swanson GF Vegetable Broth
2 cups of heavy cream
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon of marjoram
Salt and pepper to taste
Throughly wash the leeks and potatoes.
Once clean, cut off the dark green tops from the leeks (figure 1). Discard them. You only need the white and light green parts.
Finely slice remanning white and light green sections (figure 2).
Peel the potatoes and cube them. Set aside.
If making Vichyssoise, thinly slice the onion and set aside.
In a large cast iron pot or saucepan over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter.
Add the leeks, onion (if making Vichyssoise), garlic, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook until soft (about 20 minutes). Stir frequently.
Once the leeks are soft, add the potatoes, vegetable broth, bay leaves, thyme, marjoram, and a generous pinch of pepper. Bring to a bowl, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 40 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves and using an inversion blender puree the soup until silky smooth. If you do not have an inversion blender carefully scoop two cups of the soup at a time into a regular blender and blitz until smooth. Keep in mind the soup will be hot so take all precautions necessary to avoid getting burned while using the blender. Once all blended, return the soup to the pot.
Slowly add the cream to the soup. Incorporate well.
Taste for salt and pepper. Adjust if necessary. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
Serve either hot if making Leek Potato Soup or cold if making Vichyssoise.
Garnish with chives and freshly grated pepper.
Printable PDF Recipe File below: