Vichyssoise

vichyssoise

Here is the interesting history of vichyssoise and Vichy, France, after which this great soup is named.

Vichyssoise is generally accepted to have been created in America in 1917 by Louis Diat (1885-1957), who was the chef at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in New York City; he first worked at this same hotel in Long, Paris.  1

In an interview with the New Yorker in 1950, Diat relates how his inspiration for this famous soup came about: it grew out of his childhood memory of his mother’s and grandmother’s leek and potato soup, to which he and his brother added cold milk during the hot summer months.  His desire was “to make something of the sort for the patrons of the Ritz”, who needed cool foods during the summertime, in those days prior to air conditioning.  2

Diat’s family made a hot version of potato and leek soup, a popular soup in France, which had its origins in Jules Gouffe’s Royal Cookery, 1869.  A similar French-style cream of leek and potato soup also appeared in Escoffier’s Guide Culinaire, in 1903.  Thus this French soup of leeks and potatoes had become representative of French cooking by Diat’s lifetime.  The genius of our chef, however, improved on it, and today there are many versions-varying only slightly-of his cold American-French soup vichyssoise.  3

Diat called his creation after the name for the inhabitants of the spa town Vichy, which was close to his hometown Montmarault, France.  (Both these cities are in the Allier department of Auvergne-Rhine-Alps, in the central part of this nation, in the historic province of Bourbonnais.)  The town’s inhabitants are presently called Vichyssois, while the term Vichyste was used to define collaboration with the Vichy regime during World War II.  4

Vichy is best known for being the seat of the Nazi collaborationist government in France, during the second world war.  Located in the unoccupied “Free Zone”, it was the de facto-existing in reality, even if not legally recognized-capital of the French State, headed by Marshal Philippe Petain.  5

It started out as the nominal government of France from 1940 to 1942.  Then from 1942 to 1944, the Vichy regime collaborated with Nazi Germany, following the Nazi occupation of all of France, which started in 1942.  The de facto authority of the Vichy regime ended with the Allied invasion of France in late 1944.  The French Resistance-grassroots men and women representing every part of society-played a significant role in the downfall of this government and the Nazis.  6

My dad served in this war, in both India and Egypt.  When I was growing up, the two of us were constantly sharing both fiction and non-fiction books on World War II.  How we loved the courage, fortitude, and valor, of this time, which my father had known first-hand.

Our world today often appears to be void of such heroism, but it still exists vitally in God’s faithful remnant.  These spiritual warriors are presently rising up, to perform his purposes in these end-times.  We wait with joyful hope for the unfolding of mighty good, just like we saw in this tremendous victory, with the ending of the above war in 1945.

This soup always reminds me of the dedication and hope of these times; it, however, was inspired by Chef Diat in 1917, the year the first world war ended, nearly three decades prior to WWII.

Agreeing that it’s an American invention, Julia Child provides its receipt in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in which she states its basic heritage as being the French potage parmentier, defining the differing points as being the following: in vichyssoise, the leeks are cooked in stock-“white stock, chicken stock, or canned chicken broth”-instead of water, and whipping cream is also added.  7

My version has the option of using leeks, or onions, or a combination of both; onions give bite to the flavor, as does my addition of a high quality yogurt, along with the heavy whipping cream.  Chilled spoons are recommended for the perfect touch.

Let this soup become your summer tradition to please guests and family!

References:

  1. https://whatscookingamerica.net/Soup/VichyssoiseSoup.htm
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vichy
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vichy_France
  6. Ibid.
  7. Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck, The Mastering of the Art of French Cooking, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf), Vol. 1, pp. 37-39.

soup ready for pureeing with a blender-on-a-stick

Vichyssoise  Yields: 5-6 servings.  Total prep time: 50 min (plus 4 hr for chilling)/  active prep time: 25 min/  cooking time: 25 min.

3 tbsp oil  (Avocado or coconut oil is best for quality; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

3 leeks or 2 med yellow onions, chopped  (May use a combination of the two.)

1 qt broth  (Bone broth is best; see Tortellini Soup, 2016/10/10.)

1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste  (Himalayan, pink or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95/5 lb.)

2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and sliced  (Organic is best.)

1/2 c heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 c plain yogurt  (Either Nancy’s Honey Yogurt, Stoneyfield Organic Whole Milk Yogurt, or Sierra Nevada Graziers Grass-fed Plain Yogurt works best.)

1/2 tsp white pepper, or to taste

  1. Onions add a sharper flavor to the soup; use in place of, or in combination with leeks, as desired.  If using leeks, prepare thus: cut off the root at the base and the green tops, reserving only the white and light green part of the stalk.  Next slice in half length-wise, then run leeks under water to remove all the dirt; finally, chop into thin half-circle-slices.
  2. sweating onions

    Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat; when a small piece of leek/onion sizzles in it, add rest of leeks/onions and sweat (cook until translucent).  See photo.

  3. Add broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt to leeks/onions; turn heat up to med/high.
  4. Peel and slice potatoes, placing them in pot of broth, as they are cut, so they don’t turn brown; see photo below.
  5. When broth comes to a boil, turn heat down to medium; cook until potatoes are very tender.  When done, remove from heat.
  6. slicing potatoes

    Puree this mixture, using a blender-on-a-stick, also known as a smart stick (available reasonably at Bed, Bath, and Beyond).  See blender-on-a-stick in photo at top of recipe.  May also do this in batches in a food processor, VitaMix, or blender.

  7. Blend in cream and yogurt; add white pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.
  8. Chill covered for at least 4 hours; adjust seasonings.
  9. This is the best comfort food!

Healthy Date/Apricot Bars

date/apricot bars

Here is a receipt for a great date/apricot bar, sweetened with a monk fruit sweetener; it is complete with information on this great alternative sweetener.  This makes a healthy breakfast bar.  The recipe is another one of my sister’s notes of grandeur, derived by her ingenious cooking skills, which she originally made with sugar.  Today, however, her cooking is inspired by the keto diet (therefore this bar no longer fits in her diet plan).

Recently I have begun investigating this keto way of eating for myself, which promotes a diet of high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carbohydrates.  I am looking to it for its over-all health benefits, rather than for weight loss.  The more I read, the more convinced I am that the avoidance of sugars, as well as a high intake of the right kind of fat calories, is beneficial for our bodies both to maintain health and loose weight, but it is essential that they be the right kind of fats.

Dr. Don Colbert has an excellent plan, the keto-zone diet, in which you bring your bodies into a state of ketosis, burning fat for energy, rather than glucose (sugar), by using premium fats for 70% of your daily caloric intake.  Presently I am exploring in depth his teachings on the multi-health benefits of his diet.  Not needing to loose weight, I don’t restrict my carbohydrates quite as strictly as his diet requires-until I learn otherwise.  Therefore I partake in this bar, which is made with organic whole wheat pastry flour, oats, butter, and monk fruit sweetener.

Indeed, high quality fats (avocado, olive oil, grass-fed ghee, MCT oil, krill oil) are important also for those of us who aren’t in need of shedding pounds,.  Rather we have a need to take in enough calories to maintain weight and acquire optimum health.  Consuming lots of rich desserts and empty starch calories to keep weight can lead to diabetes among other serious conditions.  1

The use of good alternative sweeteners is equally important, as eating the right kind of fats; these bars are made with butter and Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener, which is available at Costco.  Monk fruit sweeteners are typically a mixture of monk fruit extract and other natural products such as inulin or erythritol;.  This Costco product is a blend of erythritol-the first ingredient-and monk fruit, also known as lo han guo, or Swingle fruit (Siraitia grosvenorii), which is a small round fruit, native to southern China.  2

Costco’s Monkfruit has a sweetness equal to sugar, though other blends may have a sweetness ranging from 100-250 times greater than table sugar.  The intensity of sweetness depends on the amount of mogrosides present.  Mogrosides are the compound-a unique antioxidant-in monk fruit extract, which are separated from the fresh-pressed juice of this Asian monk fruit during processing.  When separated they are free of calories; these sweet-flavored antioxidants-mogrosides-are mainly responsible for the sweetness of this fruit, rather than its other natural sugars, fructose and glucose.  Fructose and glucose are actually totally removed during the processing of this extract.  3

Though more research is needed to verify the health benefits of mogroside extracts from monk fruit, there is some evidence that they may have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, as well as possibly having positive effects on cancer and diabetes.  Current studies, however, use much higher doses of monk fruit extract than that consumed in this sweetening product.  4

We find the satisfying of our need for pleasure is much needed in healthy eating, but how this calls for balance.  Indeed, balance is a key to all that concerns us about food, and it is imperative that we make the effort to discover what works best for us individually.  Our bodies are unique and complex.  Food can work as a medicine, as well as be a rich blessing to our souls, when consumed properly.

Eating with an attitude of reverence is a key to tapping into gastronomic pleasure.  One simple tool in reaching this goal is to focus on that childhood instruction “chew carefully”.  In order to do this, it’s imperative to slow down.

We find the need to slow down and “chew carefully” is present in all of life’s endeavors, in order to reap the maximum goodness promised; as the old adage goes “slow down and smell the roses”.

To achieve this, it is important to give thanks to our Creator for our food, as well as for all the daily blessings and trials that come our way.  Such insures our joy.  We apply this gratitude to the not-so-good, not for the trouble itself, but rather for our resultant growth that develops out of overcoming hardship.  Such a heart bent on thanksgiving pleases our God immensely; it guarantees a prosperous life.  (For more on heightened pleasures of proper eating, see Parmesan Dover Sole, 2017/04/10.)

Enjoy this delightful recipe!

References:

  1. https://drcolbert.com/7-healthy-fats-to-help-you-burn-belly-flab/
  2. https://foodinsight.org/everything-you-need-to-know-about-monk-fruit-sweeteners/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/monk-fruit-sweetener
  4. Ibid.

finished product

Healthy Date/Apricot Bars  Yields: 2 dozen.  Total prep time: 1 1/2 hr/  active prep time: 40 min/  baking time: 50 min.

2 c pitted dates, packed down firmly, chopped  (I suggest taking a measuring cup to the store, thus pre-measuring fruit, as you buy in bulk).

2/3 c dried apricots, cut small

1 1/3 c butter, softened  (Plus several additional tbsp, as needed for moistening last of crumbs.)

1 c Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetner, cane sugar, or coconut sugar  (This Monkfruit is available at Costco.)

1 2/3 c old-fashioned oats (Organic is only slightly more expensive in bulk; available at most grocery stores.)

3 c flour (Organic whole wheat pastry flour is best.)

1 1/2 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.99/5 lbs.)

Spray oil  (Coconut spray oil is preferable for quality and taste.)

  1. thickened fruit-sauce

    Beat 1 1/3 c butter in a large bowl; blend in Monkfruit sweetner or sugar, beating until light.  Set aside.

  2. Measure dates in a measuring cup, packing down firmly; with a chef’s knife, chop into small pieces.  Repeat these steps with the apricots.
  3. “sifting” in sealed plastic bag

    Place fruit in a medium saucepan.  Add 2 1/4 c of water, cover, and bring to a boil over med/high heat.

  4. Remove lid, lower temperature and boil softly, uncovered, until a thick sauce is formed.  Be sure to stir about every 5 minutes.  Watch fruit carefully as it thickens, so as not to burn (see photo above).
  5. mealy crust

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  6. In a plastic sealed storage bag, place flour, oats, and salt.  Close the seal and shake vigorously (see above photo).
  7. Blend flour mixture into butter, until mealy; see photo.
  8. Place 3/5 of flour/butter mixture in bottom of a 9” x 13” pan, which has been lightly sprayed with oil.  Pack down evenly with hand, being sure to pat edges and corners really well.
  9. initial baking of crust

    Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes (see photo).

  10. Remove from oven and gently spread thickened fruit-sauce over top of crust.  Then, taking the rest of the flour/butter mixture, firmly pat rounds of dough between your two hands, placing these solid masses on top of date/apricots, until all is covered.  (May add a little additional soft butter to dry crumbs in the bottom of bowl, to moisten them and facilitate the last of the forming.)  See photo below.
  11. forming of top crust

    Return to oven and bake 30 minutes more, or until golden brown; see photo at top of recipe.

  12. Cut into bars, while still warm.  May freeze part of batch to have on hand for a nutritious breakfast bars.