How to Make Vichyssoise with Caviar: A Luxurious Recipe

Vichyssoise is a classic French soup made of puréed leeks, potatoes, and cream. According to the Larousse Gastronomique, it was created in 1917 by Louis Diat, chef at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York City, who named it after the spa town of Vichy in France where he was born. The soup is usually served cold and topped with chives.

Caviar refers to salt-cured fish eggs from the Acipenseridae family of fish. The two most popular types of caviar are beluga caviar from beluga sturgeons and sevruga caviar from Russian sturgeons. Caviar is known for its smooth, salty flavor and the way the eggs pop in your mouth. Due to overfishing, caviar is rare and expensive.

Combining these two luxurious ingredients, vichyssoise and caviar, makes for an elegant starter course. The saltiness of the caviar balances nicely with the cool, velvety soup. Follow these instructions to make this delicious pairing.

Ingredients for Vichyssoise with Caviar

1. Potatoes

Peel and dice 2 pounds of russet or Yukon gold potatoes. The starch from these varieties results in a rich, creamy soup base.

2. Leeks

Trim and thinly slice the white and pale green parts of 3 large leeks. Leeks need to be cleaned thoroughly as soil often gets caught between layers.

3. Chicken Stock

Use 6 cups of homemade or low-sodium chicken broth. Chicken stock provides a savory backbone to balance the vegetal notes of the soup.

4. Heavy Cream

Add 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream with 40% milk fat. The higher fat content contributes to the signature velvety texture.

5. Butter

Whisk in 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into pieces. Butter gives depth of flavor and further enriches.

6. Salt and Pepper

Salt and pepper are essential for seasoning. Taste as you go to adjust amounts.

7. Chives

3 tablespoons of fresh chives, minced, for garnish. Bright green chives complement the white soup.

8. Caviar

Garnish bowls with 2 ounces of top-quality caviar, preferably Ossetra or Sevruga. Good caviar has a salty pop.

Steps to Prepare Vichyssoise with Caviar

1. Preparing the Vegetables

Clean leeks thoroughly, trimming away dark green tops. Slice leeks in half lengthwise then thinly slice into half moons. Peel potatoes and dice into 1/2-inch cubes.

2. Cooking the Soup Base

In a large soup pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Cook leeks for 3-4 minutes until softened. Then add potatoes, chicken stock and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.

3. Blending and Straining the Soup

Working in batches, transfer soup to blender then purée until completely smooth. Pass soup through a fine mesh strainer back into pot, pressing down on solids. This ensures ultrasmooth texture.

4. Adding the Cream and Seasoning

Return strained soup to low heat. Gradually whisk in heavy cream and remaining butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Chilling the Soup

Allow vichyssoise to cool to room temperature then transfer to refrigerator to chill completely, at least 4 hours. Proper chilling is vital.

6. Serving with Caviar and Chives

Ladle chilled soup into bowls. Top each serving with 1/2 ounce of caviar and minced chives. Enjoy immediately before soup warms.

Tips for Making Perfect Vichyssoise with Caviar

1. Choosing Quality Ingredients

Splurge on top graded caviar and premium heavy cream for best flavor. Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes have a high starch content which translates into a lush, creamy base. Look for leeks with crisp white bulbs.

2. Ensuring a Smooth Texture

Allow potatoes to cook thoroughly so they perfectly dissolve into soup. Blending while hot followed by straining ensures there are no stubborn bits. This silkiness allows the caviar to shine.

3. Properly Chilling the Soup

Because the soup is served cold, it must be fully chilled, at least 4 hours or preferably overnight. If served too warm, the delicate flavors become muddled and caviar texture alters.

4. Serving Suggestions

For stunning presentation, serve vichyssoise in rounded bowls with caviar placed in center. Sprinkle minced chives over soup and caviar right before serving so they hold their vibrant color. Accompany with mother of pearl caviar spoons.

What is the Origin of Vichyssoise?

As mentioned earlier, vichyssoise was invented in America by Chef Louis Diat in 1917 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York City. Diat was originally from Vichy, France which inspired the soup’s name. Vichy water is a naturally carbonated mineral water from the Vichy springs. It is speculated Diat added “Vichy”-inspired carbonation to the soup which resulted in its delicate and refreshing taste. The soup quickly became popular with Americans and a staple in French restaurants across the United States in the mid 20th century.

What are Some Variations of Vichyssoise?

There are many creative riffs on classic vichyssoise:

  • Substitute chicken or vegetable stock for half the cream for a lighter version
  • Garnish with crispy pancetta or bacon bits
  • Add a teaspoon of curry powder, nutmeg or cayenne pepper for new flavors
  • Swap in sweet potatoes, carrots or parsnips for a seasonal twist
  • Top with lobster meat, crab meat or sautéed mushrooms
  • Blend with roasted garlic and top with garlic croutons
  • Make green vichyssoise with spinach or watercress
  • For dairy-free, use coconut cream instead of heavy cream

Why Add Caviar to Vichyssoise?

Combining caviar with the simple, velvety base of vichyssoise may seem unexpected, however the pairing is synergistic. The exquisite saltiness of caviar beautifully cuts through and balances the rich creaminess. The smooth cool soup allows the briny popping caviar pearls to take center stage. When making such refined, luxurious food, the quality of a few exceptional ingredients shines over complex fussiness. Topping vichyssoise with caviar only elevates this already elegant soup into a showstopping dish.

What Drinks Pair Well with Vichyssoise and Caviar?

Buttery, velvety vichyssoise has enough body to stand up to wines while the saltiness of caviar refreshes the palate. Classic pairings include:

  • Chilled dry white wine such as French Chablis, Austrian Riesling or Italian Pinot Grigio
  • Sparkling wines like Champagne, Cava or Crémant compliment the delicate flavors
  • Vodka martini – vodka complements without overpowering briny caviar
  • For non-alcoholic,** iced tea, lemon water** or cucumber-mint infused water

So for an elegant starter to a summer dinner party, comfort food turned luxurious, try this rich, classic soup topped with those distinctive salty pearls of caviar. The velvety base is the perfect foil for those delicate popping eggs. Use high quality ingredients and properly chill to let the flavors shine.