Not So Scary Vichyssoise

I've devoted Plucky Thursdays to writing about recipes and foods that intimidate me, and I'm amused to find almost all of them are French! I'm not sure where this fear stems from, but it is also accompanied by a firm belief that all French recipes involve difficult steps or finicky cooking instructions.

How wrong I've been!

When my friend Kat wanted to try making vichyssoise with me, I was delighted! She tracked down a recipe for Lemon Zucchini Vichyssoise from an old issue of Gourmet. It sounded so fresh and yummy that we simply had to try it.

Since it was the end of the month and we were both broke, we pooled our resources and had just what we needed. She brought broth, leeks and zucchini and I contributed potatoes, onion and a lemon.Perfect!

Then we got down to business. Kat thinly sliced zucchini, leeks and lemons, while I chopped potato and onion, and ground white pepper in a mortar and pestle.

We cooked the leeks, onion and garlic in a large saucepan until the leeks were soft, added the potato, zucchini and broth and simmered until the potatoes were tender. This mixture was pureed and blended with the cream, lemon juice and seasonings, then chilled until we were ready to eat.

That first spoonful was a little burst of summer. Light, creamy, and silky smooth with the mellow flavors of the vegetables heightened by the wonderful zing of lemon and the sharp contrast of white pepper. I can't wait to make it again!

Lemon Zucchini Vichyssoise
Gourmet - August 1994
Yield: Makes about 6 cups
Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less but requires additional unattended time.


1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped fine and washed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
a 1/2-pound russet (baking) potato
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, sliced thin (about 4 cups)
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice plus additional to taste
ice water for thinning soup
lemon slices for garnish


In a large heavy saucepan cook leek, onion, and garlic with salt and pepper to taste in oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until leek is softened. Peel potato and cut into 1-inch pieces. Add potato, zucchini, and broth to leek mixture. Simmer mixture, covered, 15 minutes, or until potato is very tender.

In a blender purée mixture in batches until very smooth, transferring as puréed to a bowl. Stir in cream, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste and chill soup at least 6 hours or overnight.

Thin soup with ice water and season with additional lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Garnish soup with lemon slices.


  1. I think a lot of people have that misconception about French food. Kudos to you for not being scared off!

  2. The soup looks wonderful. I think I spend half the winter eating soup so I deeply appreciate your recipe.

  3. Thank you, Susan! A friend told me the other day, "Make mistakes as fast as you can and you'll learn so much!" It inspired me :-)

  4. Thank you, El - it really is! I'm such a soup fan myself. This week was split pea with prosciutto and chicken vegetable with lime and cilantro. Wonderful! :-)