It was a Saturday afternoon in early January, the snow was falling and a chicken was boiling in the pot on the stove. The voiceover on PBS promised the secret of vichyssoise would be revealed next.
Vichyssoise could have been a more formal name for that upside down schwa ‘e’ for all I knew. Ultimately it wound up being so much more because it stirred an interest in food television and cooking shows featuring Martin Yan, Justin Wilson and Julia Child. . . and that was just the beginning.
There was nothing much else we could do inside on that cold snowy day except watch Julia Child on PBS, mesmerized by her simple approach to dishes that were clearly so complicated you wouldn’t find them in the crockpot or roasting pan of a typical mid-western kitchen. She spoke of ingredients like leeks and shallots that were far from common and recommended a technique called ‘braising’ to develop the sweeter flavors of the more mild cousins to the onion.
On that day, as she and Martin and Justin looked directly into the camera – looking us square in the eye – at the end of each episode to share their final words of wisdom for the day, it was in that moment that each of us understood why we were there. We appreciated food as something more than a medium to sustain life and we had just shared 30 minutes together learning to further develop that appreciation.
It was Julia herself who said it best in her book Appetite for Life, “It’s a shame to be caught up in something that doesn’t absolutely make you tremble with joy!” That joie de vivre was evident throughout her life, but never more prevalent than when she was cooking for and eating with others.
Vichyssoise is definitely the embodiment of that joy. It is after all one of the two best known cold soups. And yet, it’s equally good when served hot.
It’s simple and elegant. It allows for minor adaptations (if you don’t mind being accused of heresy). It’s great for both vegans and vegetarians (if you use vegetable stock and no cream). Some would suggest it’s even better when you add sweet sausage and/ or bacon.
You can find classic vichyssoise recipes all over, we offer you our unique adaptation and suggest a trip to your local farmers market for the leeks (don’t forget the potatoes, shallots and dill too). Leeks are, after all, both a winter and summer vegetable. We prefer to braise them first and then allow them to melt into the soup as it simmers. The resulting flavor profile is wonderfully rich and complex, just as Julia promised!
Best of all, this soup takes all of an hour to complete and tastes like it’s been simmering all day. If we were to pass on just one tip to make this dish spectacular, we’d share one of Julia’s, “Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need!”
P.S. Make sure to use our Bring Home The Bacon – Black Truffle premium dry cured bacon for maximum flavor!
- 6 large baking potatoes
- 2 large leeks (thinly sliced – white to light green portions only)
- 2 large shallots (diced)
- 1-1/2 lbs. sweet italian sausage
- 1 lb. bacon (Bring Home The Bacon – Black Truffle)
- 4 cups half-and-half
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 bunches fresh dill (chopped)
- Sel Gris de Guerande
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- Bring 6 qt stock pot with heavily salted water to a boil.
- Peel and cube potatoes into ½” – ¾” pieces. Boil until fork tender.
- In separate skillet fry bacon lardons then remove to paper towel when done.
- In separate 10 qt stock pot fry crumbled sausage until mostly done. Pour off most of the pork fat, allowing 2-3 Tbsp to remain. Add butter, then add shallots and leeks, braising until tender.
- Add fork tender potato chunks to sausage and leeks. Add 2 cups of potato water and stir all together.
- Add half-and-half and heavy whipping cream. Constantly stirring, bring soup to a boil and then reduce to medium heat for 20 minutes. Season to taste, then reduce to simmer for an additional 20 minutes.
- Final soup will not have any leek or shallot pieces as all will have fully ‘melted’ into the soup. Smaller potato pieces will remain.
- Add fresh chopped dill and stir all together.
- Serve topped with bacon lardons and fresh chopped chives.