If you subscribe to the theory that soup, like revenge, is a dish best served cold, then you won’t give today’s food holiday a chilly reception. November 18 is National Vichyssoise Day!
And also National Apple Cider Day. Which would have been delicious, refreshing, in season, and could have been served piping hot to take away the autumn chill. But yesterday, I had to go and open my mouth and declare that since our food challenge is winding down, we wanted to focus on some of the more unique foods that we might not otherwise encounter for a long time again (if ever), and I can’t say I’ve ever had vichyssoise. Hell, I can barely pronounce it! (Vi-shee-swa). So, let’s just dive right in to this soup that is made with pureed potatoes, leeks, and onions, and traditionally served cold!
The overriding question is, why is this soup served cold? Legend has it that King Louis XV of France (1710 –1774) was a big fan of potato soup, but was also paranoid that somebody might try to poison him. Thus, he demanded his servants taste his food before it made its way to him. Inevitably, by the time the potato soup reached the hungry king, it had grown cold. Rather than being irritated by this, the good king decided he happened to prefer his potato soup cold, after all. Nevertheless, vichyssoise fell out of favor for a couple of centuries, until one day in 1917 Ritz-Carlton chef Louis Diat, in an effort to cool off diners during the hot and sultry summer months, recreated a childhood favorite hot leek and potato soup his mother used to make. The family would cool it off by adding milk, and Diat did the same, calling it “creme vichyssoise.” Originally it was only served during the summer months, but demand became so great, it was added to the menu as a regular dish in 1923.
I made vichyssoise using this recipe from Allrecipes.com, scaling down the serving size since we only wanted to try it as an appetizer. I actually made it last night and let it sit in the fridge, stirring in the cream at the last minute before serving. The result? Tasty…but kind of pointless. I make a hot cream of potato soup that is so much better, especially this time of year. THIS had me craving THAT. Of course, that’s easy for me to say, seeing as how I don’t have anybody trying to poison me.
That I know of, anyway.
P.S. 5 minutes after posting this, I found myself unable to put the spoon down. This really IS pretty good. Once you get used to the fact that it’s cold, the flavor grows on you. I like it!