Downton Dish: Vichyssoise

At last, Alfred’s oft-mentioned interest in cooking is about to pay off…maybe. Our tall footman friend is off to London to embark on a slightly less ridiculous and profanity-laden version of Hell’s Kitchen. The prize? A place at the Ritz, which was (and is) no joke. They don’t just hire anyone, so you’d better know your French classics. Classics like Vichyssoise, or posh potato soup, if you will.

Vichyssoise is an illegitimate orphan of the soup world—nobody’s quite sure who its parents were. Julia Child claimed it was an American invention, while others insist it’s French. A French chef at the Ritz Carlton in New York City named Louis Diat is most commonly credited with its invention in 1917 (or at least its popularity on fancy menus, because surely someone had been making leek and potato soup prior to that). Diat’s major contribution to the recipe seems to have been serving it cold, instead of hot. He named it after his hometown of Vichy, France.

Vichyssoise Soup

55g butter

1 onion, chopped

300g leek, white and light green part only, sliced

110g peeled, sliced potatoes

300 ml vegetable or chicken stock

300 ml/1/2 pint milk

2T cream (optional)

Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a soup pot or large saucepan. Cook the onion and leek until softened, about 8-10 minutes.

Add the potatoes and stock and season. Simmer until the potatoes are tender.

Liquidise using a hand or regular blender or a food processor. Sieve to take out any large bits and add the milk and cream (if using).

Refrigerate until cool, then serve sprinkled with chives and parsley

*Note: This can be served warm, if you prefer, though technically that is known as Potage Bonne Femme instead of Vichyssoise.

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