Today is National Vichyssoise Day. While Vichyssoise is French-inspired and named in honor of Vishy, France, it was actually created in New York City. Chef Louis Diat introduced the world to his dish, Crème Vichyssoise Glacèe, at the Ritz-Carlton in 1917. Although his soup was served cold, it was inspired by a traditional French soup of potatoes and leeks that he prepared with his grandmother in his birth town of Bourbon-Lanchambauld, near Vichy.
There is much speculation as to the soup Chef Diat made with his grandmother, but the general consensuses is that Vichyssoise is inspired by Portage Parmentier, a popular French Soup created by Doctor Antonie Parmentier sometime around 1772. Dr. Parmentier was one of the first to import potatoes to France for human consumption. Potatoes were once considered poisonous, much like the tomato was once thought of as unsafe to eat.
Vichyssoise is intended to be served cold, but can be served at room temperature for those that shy away from cold soup. While traditionally a potato-leek-cream soup garnished with chives, today there are many spins on this tradition. Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, Pumpkin Vichyssoise seemed a good choice.
While I’m not a fan of pumpkin pie, I do love a good pumpkin soup. It’s one of the few soups I like cold.
Pumpkin Chile Vichyssoise
6 dried Red Chile Peppers
5 cups Chicken Broth, divided
1 teaspoon Butter
1 large White Onion, chopped
2 lbs Leeks, chopped
1 can (15 oz) Pumpkin Purée (see note)
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 Bay Leaf
1 pinch Kosher Salt
Black Pepper to taste
1 cup Buttermilk
Chives for garnish
Creme Fraìche for garnish
Note: Use only 100% Pumpkin Purée be it home-made or commercially processed, with no sugars or other ingredients added.
Remove the stems and seed from the dried chili pods. Combine 2 cups chicken broth and chile peppers in a saucepan over medium-low heat; simmer for 30 minutes.
Peel and chop the onion, set aside. Chop leeks and set aside.
Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions, sauté until caramelized, about 45 minutes. Transfer caramelized onions to a bowl.
Cook leeks in the same stockpot until tender, about 10 minutes or so. Add pumpkin, chicken broth with chile peppers, caramelized onion, remaining 3 cups chicken broth, and cumin to the stock pot. Simmer until flavors combine, about 5 minutes.
Purée soup with an immersion blender until smooth or use an blender working in batches. Add bay leaf, salt, and pepper.
Remove soup from heat; stir in buttermilk. Chill for several hours or overnight. Remove bay leaf before serving.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls or cups. Snip some chives over the top of the soup. Garnish with a dollop of Creme Fraìche or sour cream.