Buttermilk Fennel Vichyssoise

By • March 18, 2013 27 Comments

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Author Notes: I’'ve said it many times here, but soup really is my favorite thing to make. It can be as comforting, elegant, rustic, hearty, simple, complex, delicate, chunky, smooth, hot, cold, big, or little as you want it to be. It goes with every meal and every season. And the garnish is always so fun to decide. It’s like that hat or scarf that just makes the outfit.

This soup, a vichyssoise, is kind of all of those things: simple yet complex, delicate yet hearty, elegant yet rustic. It can even be served hot or cold. This soup calls for any manner of garnishes: chives, crème fraîche, a simple buttery crouton, or maybe you want to really dress it up with a sliver of smoked salmon and a small dollop of caviar. Now that really makes the outfit.
F for Food

Food52 Review: WHO: F for Food is a master of soups who loves her immersion blender.
WHAT: A tangy, versatile soup that shows off what fennel can really do.
HOW: A standard sweat, simmer, purée method is all that stands in the way of you eating this soup for lunch -- today.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We love the many hats this soup wears -- serve it hot, cold, for a quick lunch or an elegant dinner party -- garnish with anything your heart desires. If you want to be black-tie about it, top it with smoked salmon, but you certainly don't need it to capture this soup's charms.
The Editors


Serves 6

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 leek, white and light-green parts only, cleaned, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into half-moons
  • 1 large white potato, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup chopped fennel bulb plus one handful of fronds, chopped
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • Smoked salmon & caviar for garnish (optional)
  1. Melt butter in a stockpot over medium-low heat. Add leek, season with salt, and cook, covered, until tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in fennel (bulb and fronds) and cook for about 5-7 more minutes.
  3. Working in batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth. Transfer puréed soup to a large bowl.
  4. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Stir in sour cream (or crème fraîche) and buttermilk just before serving. Adjust seasoning as needed. If necessary, thin the soup with a bit more chicken stock or water to achieve desired consistency.
  5. Garnish, if you like, with a sliver of smoked salmon and a tiny drop of caviar. This soup may be served hot or cold.

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