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Vichyssoise (Cold Leek and Potato Soup) à la Julia Child

Vichyssoise – cold leek and potato soup – is creamy, velvety smooth, full of flavor, and very easy to make. It’s perfect as a first course, lunch, or a light supper on hot summer days!

If you’re a soup lover like me but have never tried chilled soup, now is definitely the time! And why not start with a classic? This Vichyssoise is made with just 5 ingredients and is so simple and delicious!

It’s as fun to eat as it is to say (muster up your best French accent and go for it: vee-she-swahz)!

So, a few weeks ago, David was talking to some friends about a menu they were planning to serve guests, and one of the dishes was Vichyssoise. It’s been so hot and humid here lately, he was immediately intrigued by the possibility of a cold soup.

And he proceeded to ask me to make it just about every day.

I’ll admit that I resisted at first. I was skeptical about trying cold soup. My brain tells me that soup should always be hot…because that’s how I’ve been eating it my whole life. I honestly figured I wouldn’t enjoy it.

When I finally gave in and decided to give it a go, I went right to “The French Chef” herself – Julia Child – to learn how to make this chilled leek and potato soup. The recipe I’m sharing today is slightly adapted from her book Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, and oh, my goodness, it’s soooo good!

What’s most amazing to me about this soup is that the ingredient list is incredibly basic – leeks, potatoes, water, salt, and heavy cream (that’s it!) – yet there is so much flavor.

I have become so used to using stock or broth in my soup recipes that I thought there was no way that a soup made with water could be this tasty. But it’s incredibly tasty, and I think using water allows the flavors of the leeks and potatoes to really shine through!

bowl of vichyssoise with a ladle on the side

Ingredients you need:

  • Leeks
  • Potatoes (I used russets, but any potato will do)
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Heavy cream
  • Fresh chives (for garnish, optional)
leeks and russet potatoes on a white surface

How to clean the leeks:

If you’ve never cooked with leeks before, they are related to onions and look like giant scallions. And they are very dirty both on the outside and inside (dirt gets inside in between the layers of the leek too).

For this reason, you must clean the leeks very well before you use them (even if they look clean). Please, please, please don’t skip this step. The last thing you want is a gritty Vichyssoise.

Here’s how to do it!

leeks and a knife on a white surface with the root ends and greens of the leeks removed

Remove and discard the root ends and the green parts of the leeks (we only want to use the white and very light green part of the leeks for this recipe).

leeks sliced in half lengthwise on a white surface with a knife

Slice the leeks in half lengthwise.

chopped leeks on a white surface with a knife

Then slice them into ¼-inch-wide pieces.

sliced leeks in a bowl of water

Place the sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water.

hand separating the pieces of leek in the bowl

Using your hands, separate the layers of the leeks and agitate the leeks in the water to loosen any dirt. Then let them sit for a few minutes to allow any dirt to sink to the bottom of the bowl.

sliced leeks being lifted out of a bowl of water with a slotted spoon

Using a slotted spoon, gently lift the leeks out of the water, being careful not to agitate the water too much so the dirt stays at the bottom of the bowl. If needed, repeat until the leeks are totally clean.

Here’s a look at how to make Vichyssoise (Cold Leek and Potato Soup):

two images, one of leeks, potatoes and water in a pot on the stove with text that says place the leeks, potatoes, water, and salt in a pot, the other of the pot at a boil with text that says bring to a boil
two images, one of the pot partially covered on the stove top with text that says simmer, partially covered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender, the other of an immersion blender in the soup with text that says purée until smooth
two images, one of heavy cream being poured into the soup with text that says stir in heavy cream, taste and add salt if needed, the other of the soup in a glass bowl with text that says transfer to a bowl, cool
two images, one of a refrigerator with text that says cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight, the other of the finished soup in a bowl with a ladle full of soup being taken out with text that says enjoy garnish with additional cream and chives if desired

Tips & Tidbits:

  • I think the easiest way to purée the soup is to use an immersion blender. If you don’t have one, use a regular blender or food processor (I suggest letting the soup cool down a bit first so it is not boiling hot) and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions for processing hot/warm liquids in your machine.
  • Salt is very important in this recipe. You need it to bring out the flavors of the leeks and potatoes. The soup will be much too bland without it. And since cold can mute the saltiness a bit, make sure you taste the soup again after it has chilled to be sure the seasoning is correct.
    • I use kosher salt in just about all of my recipes, which is less salty than regular table salt. If using table salt, you might want to use a little less (I would suggest starting with 1½ teaspoons).
  • If you’d like to add pepper to your soup, try using white pepper if you don’t want black specks in there (of course, if you don’t mind black specks, use black pepper).
  • You can use chicken stock or broth instead of water if you’d like (you may need to reduce the salt, depending on how salty your broth is).
  • The soup should be thoroughly chilled before serving, at least 4 hours, but I think overnight is better. This gives the flavors a chance to meld and develop even more.
  • My soup had a nice, smooth texture and was not overly thick. We thought it was perfect and thoroughly enjoyed it this way; it was so refreshing and light. Julia’s recipe doesn’t say how thick it is supposed to be (although I did track down the episode of The French Chef where she made it, and it didn’t look to be very thick). Personally, I don’t think this soup would be as appealing if it was super thick and gloopy.
  • You may notice that the soup separates a bit after sitting in the refrigerator. This is okay. Just give it a quick stir before serving, and you’ll be good to go!
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 to 4 days.
bowl of vichyssoise with a spoonful being taken out

And when the weather turns chilly again, don’t forget about this soup. It’s also delicious served hot!

Bon appétit!

I hope you try this recipe for Vichyssoise and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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Vichyssoise (Cold Leek and Potato Soup) à la Julia Child

Vichyssoise – cold leek and potato soup – is creamy, velvety smooth, full of flavor, and very easy to make. It's perfect as a first course, lunch, or a light supper on hot summer days!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cool and Chill Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 6 first course servings (about 1 1/3 cups each; recipe makes about 8 cups total)
Estimated Calories: 168

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sliced leeks, white and very light green parts only; about 4 leeks (see note below on how to clean them)
  • 3 cups chopped peeled potatoes, about 3 medium potatoes, chop into 1" pieces; I use russets, but any potato will do
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste, if needed (if using regular table salt, use 1½ teaspoons)
  • ½ cup heavy cream, plus additional cream for garnish, if desired
  • chopped fresh chives, for garnish, optional

Special Equipment

  • immersion blender, blender or food processor

Instructions

  • Place the leeks, potatoes, water, and salt in a pot (I use a 3- or 4-quart pot).
  • Bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Reduce the heat, partially cover the pot with a lid, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the leeks and potatoes are very tender. If you notice a little foamy film on top as the vegetables are cooking, just skim it off.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and purée the soup until smooth using an immersion blender (this is what I use). If you don't have one, use a regular blender or food processor (I suggest letting the soup cool down a bit first so it is not boiling hot).
    Note: If using a regular blender or food processor, please follow the manufacturer's safety instructions for processing hot liquids. Do it in batches, never filling more than halfway. For a blender, remove or loosen the center cap in the lid (if there is one) so steam can escape. Cover the lid (and hole) with a folded kitchen towel and hold the lid down while blending (an oven mitt can be used as extra layer of protection for your hands). The last thing you want is the lid popping off and hot soup ending up all over you or your kitchen!
  • Stir in the heavy cream.
  • Taste and add salt if needed.
  • Transfer the soup to a large bowl and cool to room temperature (this will take about 30 minutes to 1 hour).
  • Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight (I recommend overnight, as it gives the flavors more time to develop and meld together).
  • When ready to serve, give the soup a stir, as it may have separated a bit while chilling in the refrigerator. Taste and add more salt if needed (the cold temperature can mute the saltiness, so although the soup might have seemed perfectly seasoned while hot, it may need more salt when chilled).
  • Place the soup in serving bowls (you can chill the bowls if you'd like) and garnish with additional heavy cream and chopped fresh chives, if desired.

Notes

  • To repare and clean the leeks: Remove and discard the root end and the dark green tops. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise, then slice into ¼-inch wide pieces. Place in a bowl of cold water and, using your hands, separate the layers and agitate the water to loosen any dirt. Let sit for a few minutes to allow any dirt to sink to the bottom of the bowl, then remove with a slotted spoon, being careful not to stir up any of the dirt. If needed, repeat until the leeks are totally clean. 
  • If you’d like to add pepper to your soup, try white pepper so your soup doesn’t have black specks (of course, if you don’t mind black specks, black pepper is fine to use). 
  • You can use chicken stock or broth instead of water if you’d like (you may need to reduce the salt, depending on how salty your broth is).
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 to 4 days.
  • This soup is also delicious served hot!
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!

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