AskDefine | Define vichyssoise

Dictionary Definition

vichyssoise n : a creamy potato soup flavored with leeks and onions; usually served cold

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. a thick, creamy soup made from potato, leeks and onions; normally served cold

Extensive Definition

Vichyssoise ([viʃiˈswɑz], commonly mispronounced [viːʃiːˈswɑː]) is a French-style soup made of puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream and chicken stock. It is traditionally served cold.


The culinary origins of vichyssoise, namely whether it is a genuinely French dish or an American innovation, is a subject of debate among culinary historians. Credit for the dish usually goes to Louis Diat , the chef at the Ritz-Carlton in New York City for most of the first half of the 20th century. Diat related his recollection of the invention in New Yorker magazine in 1950:
''"In the summer of 1917, when I had been at the Ritz seven years, I reflected upon the potato-and-leek soup of my childhood, which my mother and grandmother used to make. I recalled how, during the summer, my older brother and I used to cool it off by pouring in cold milk, and how delicious it was. I resolved to make something of the sort for the patrons of the Ritz.
The same article explains that the soup was first titled crème vichyssoise glacée, then, after the restaurant's menu changed from French to English in 1930, cream vichyssoise glacée. Diat named his invention after Vichy, a town not far from his home town of Montmarault.
Others contend that French chef Jules Gouffé was first to create the recipe, publishing a version in Royal Cookery (1869). Diat may have borrowed the concept from an older generation of French chefs and added the innovation of serving it cold.
Vichyssoise can be confused with its warm cousin Potage Parmentier. Its cold serving temperature is used for comedic value in entertainment. For example, in the 1992 movie Batman Returns, Bruce Wayne is surprised at its temperature, saying "It's cold!" to which his butler, Alfred responds that "It's supposed to be cold." Similarly, on an All in the Family episode, Archie Bunker's neighbor brings over a dish of vichyssoise for dinner to which Archie turns up his nose due to its temperature. On stage, in the Broadway Musical Nunsense'', the convent's cook, Sister Julia Child-of-God, made a breakfast of vichyssoise soup that killed 52 of the nuns with food poisoning. The soup's influence is not limited to the comedic, however, as Chef Anthony Bourdain lists vichyssoise as the catalyst of his lifelong passion for food, telling of a transatlantic voyage on the Queen Mary at the age of 9, when he first discovered this "delightfully cool, tasty liquid."

Vichyssoise, Bon Vivant, and botulism

On July 2, 1971 the FDA released a public warning after learning that a New York man had died and his wife had become seriously ill due to botulism after eating a can of Bon Vivant vichyssoise soup. The company began a recall of the 6,444 cans of vichyssoise soup made in the same batch as the can known to be contaminated. The FDA discovered that the company’s processing practices raised questions not only about these lots of the vichyssoise, but also about all other products packed by the company. The effectiveness check of the recall had revealed a number of swollen or otherwise suspect cans among Bon Vivant’s other products, so FDA extended the recall to include all Bon Vivant products. The FDA shut down the company’s Newark, New Jersey plant on July 7, 1971. Although only five cans of Bon Vivant soup were found to be contaminated with the botulin toxin, all in the initial batch of vichyssoise recalled and part of the first 324 cans tested, the ordeal destroyed public confidence in the company’s products and the Bon Vivant name. Bon Vivant filed for bankruptcy within a month of the announcement of the recall.


External links

vichyssoise in German: Vichyssoise
vichyssoise in Spanish: Vichyssoise
vichyssoise in Hebrew: וישיסואז
vichyssoise in Japanese: ヴィシソワーズ
vichyssoise in Portuguese: Vichyssoise

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

bisque, borscht, bouillabaisse, bouillon, broth, burgoo, chicken soup, chowder, clam chowder, clear soup, consomme, egg drop soup, fish soup, gazpacho, gravy soup, gumbo, julienne, matzo ball soup, minestrone, misoshiru soup, mock turtle soup, mulligatawny, oxtail soup, pot-au-feu, potage, potage au tomate, potato soup, pottage, puree, soup, stock, thick soup, thin soup, tomato soup, turtle soup, vegetable soup, won ton soup
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