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The French are notable for their fancy dishes, upholding themselves to a more robust and elegant lifestyle incorporated into their foods. One of those delightful foods is vichyssoise, a soup served cold and quite comforting during the summer months. Never heard of the soup? That’s okay because here you can learn about the history of this cold but creamy soup and even learn how to make it yourself.

History of National Vichyssoise Day

Pronounced “vish-e-swaz,” it is a soup made with pureed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream and chicken stock and is generally served cold. Many historians debate the origins of this soup. One of the earliest references of the soup is said to have occurred from the reign of King Louis XV of France. The story goes that he loved potato soup but was suspicious of people poisoning his food. So he would have his servants taste the soup before serving it. However, once it got to him it was cold, and the King said he preferred it cold anyway. Another source states that the origin of the soup came from two French cookbooks, one mentioned in 1869 and another in 1903. Both, however, served the soup hot.

However, the source that is more widely accepted is that in 1917, Chef Louis Diat created the soup for his customers during the hot summer months of July and August in New York City to keep them cool. When he worked in the New York Ritz hotels, he remembered the hot leek and potato soup his mother would serve him and how he and his family would cool the soup by adding milk to it. While he originally served the soup during the colder seasons, his customers would ask for it so much that he permanently placed it on the menu.

How to celebrate National Vichyssoise Day

Anthony Bourdain was a fan of this soup; in his first cookbook Kitchen Confidential, he has this soup listed. If you want to learn how to make it, here’s how;

first, in a large, heavy bottom pot, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Once butter is melted, add 8 sliced leeks and cook for 5 minutes. Then, add 2 potatoes, cut into cubes, and cook for a minute or two, stirring a few times. Then, stir in 2 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and let it simmer for 35 minutes.

Once leeks and potatoes are soft, allow the soup to cool for a few minutes. Once it cools, pour the soup into a blender and puree the soup at a high speed. Once pureed, return soup to the cooking pot and whisk in 2 cups of heavy cream and a pinch of nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Return to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook 5 minutes. Once cooked for those five minutes, then transfer soup to the mixing bowl and chill over the ice bath, stirring occasionally.

When the soup is at room temperature, cover in plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator to cool. If you love the soup, then use the hashtag #Vichyssoiseday and let all your friends know on social media what day it is today.

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