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updated: 6/26/2012 1:22 PM

Vichyssoise a summer pleaser, n'est pas?

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  • Vichyssoise, or as you might say, cold potato soup, makes a refreshing and filling summer meal.

      Vichyssoise, or as you might say, cold potato soup, makes a refreshing and filling summer meal.
    Eileen Brown | Staff Photographer


How is it possible to reach middle age without ever eating vichyssoise?

I know I'm dating myself, but vichyssoise always reminds me of that old Bob Newhart shtick where he pretends he's a nerdy Pfc. clerk typist in World War II, who was ordered to do phony one-way phone conversations to throw off the eavesdropping Germans.

"Blanke, the cook, is working out rather well, sir," Newhart says into a phone. "Well one problem is his vichyssoise tastes a little too much like potato soup. Oh, it's supposed to taste like potato soup …"

Bada bing!

In any case, vichyssoise is my new favorite summertime soup. (Goodbye, gazpacho. It was nice while it lasted.)

Who would have thought cold potato soup could be so delightful? Its cold, creamy potato-y-ness is like a savory milkshake, and I mean that in the best possible way.

It's easy to make and very easy on the budget. Plus, who doesn't like saying they served vichyssoise for dinner?

"Hey, hon. Pass the vichyssoise, s'il vous plait."

Before you run off and act all French, however, here's the kicker. It turns out vichyssoise is most likely an American dish. Apparently, a chef at the Ritz Carlton in New York named Louis Diat told 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."

There's a little bit of controversy over this because the French probably invented potato leek soup -- the hot kind -- first.

You say potato. I say vichyssoise. Wherever it came from, I say it's delicious.

• M. Eileen Brown is the director of strategic marketing and innovation for the Daily Herald and an incurable soup-a-holic. She specializes in vegetarian soups and blogs at

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