Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Velouté and Vichyssoise

How did we get to V already? It seems that this month of cooking terms is flying by. I have a whole bunch of future blog posts lined up because of what I couldn’t get to this month. So come on back for more later on!

V is for Velouté (veh LOO tay)
You gotta love the French for systematizing cooking and creating categories like “mother sauces”, of which velouté is one. Mother Sauces birth other sauces that are related to them, but not the same as a Mother Sauce. Rarely is a Mother Sauce used on its own. It is traditional to modify it for the dish being created.

For example, velouté (from the French for “velvet”) is an ultracreamy white sauce that is stock thickened with a white roux (check R for roux classifications). But not just any stock. For velouté the stock is a light stock. And that means the bones were NOT roasted before making the stock. Now is that fine-grained thinking or not? Whew! The French take their cooking very seriously.

Different stocks are used (fish, veal, beef, chicken, etc.) depending on the dish the velouté will be used in. The name of the stock used is the name of the velouté: fish velouté, chicken velouté, and so on.

The daughter sauces of velouté are many. I know of ten; maybe there are others. One I’ve encountered is Sauce Allemande (aka Sauce Parisienne), with lemon, cream, and egg yolks served with eggs. Another is Sauce Vin Blanc with fish.

The Mother Sauces are amazing in their proliferation of daughter sauces. Know what the Mothers are? Velouté, Béchamel, Hollandaise, Espagnole, and Tomate.
Want to impress a waiter? (Well, maybe; or maybe he’ll think you are revealing your ignorance.) Ask what the Mother Sauce is for a daughter sauce listed on a recipe description.

V is for Vichyssoise (VEE she swahz)
One of my favorite cold soups is vichyssoise. I have had the restaurant versions, which I love, but my own variation is somewhat lighter and quicker and is listed at the end. Traditionally, vichyssoise is sweated leeks and onions mixed with potatoes and cream and pureed before adding chicken stock. It can of course be eaten hot or cold, but it is more dramatic to serve a cold soup, yes?

Vichyssoise’s history is murky. It is likely that it existed as a peasant soup before being elevated to premier restaurant status. However, there are several listings of a kind of cold potato soup by several chefs in different eras (one of which gave the soup its name). Who knows and who really cares? It’s delicious and refreshing for a carb-based dish.

Here’s my cold potato soup that I probably shouldn’t call vichyssoise.

Sharon’s Vichyssoise-esque (about 4-6 servings)

5 green onions, sliced
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium potatoes
2 can condensed milk
2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
chives for garnish

In medium skillet, sweat both kinds of onions in butter about 8 minutes. (Don’t brown)

While cooking onions, microwave the two potatoes until soft. Cut into pieces to let them cool off.

Add broth and milk to the onions and simmer gently for five minutes.

In blender combine onions mixture, potato, salt and pepper. Puree until no chunks are left, and it is smooth. Refrigerate until chilled, at least two hours.

Pour into bowls to serve and garnish with chives.


  1. Yes, the French are very fond of their cooking, and their long terms...great post and well done getting to V.

    1. Thanks so much for coming by again. I have had such fun doing this series and in finding so many other new bloggers to connect with!

  2. I love French cooking, especially the sauces. I never knew there were different levels. (

    1. Isn't it fun to put it in terms of Mother and daughter sauces. Then you have a better idea what it means. Thanks for being a regular. I appreciate your visits and your comments.