A special vichyssoise for my muses

I’m officially back to blogging after a 6 month break, and I must thank 5 amazing ladies who, through their kindness and their friendship have given me the necessary motivation to do so. These muses are my mom, my great bloggers and friends Mimi and Ashley and a friend named Jil (Mimi’s neighbor in Oklahoma) whom I’ve never even met!

Let me explain:

Yes, blogging, when you are a hopeless perfectionist, can become a huge pain in the butt. And so one stops posting and loses the daily habit to do so. We move on to other things… But then, people tell you that reading your posts was something that enhanced the quality of their lives and then you catch yourself rethinking the whole bloody thing. I seriously doubt that my posts make a huge difference in people’s lives, but hey, if I can make anyone feel even a tiny bit better about their day, it is very much worth reevaluating things and make blogging part of my routine again. This is why I started this blog 6 or 7 years ago. It was to share whatever I found inspiring about France, food and life in general in the hope that it would bring joy to kindred souls all over the world. Your vibe attracts your tribe they say…

Anyhow. Here is how each one of these lovely ladies (I call them my muses! It makes me feel more like Picasso or some other fancy artist. Ha Ha Ha) have inspired me to post again:

First there’s my mom of course. She is now 86 and I believe she’s let down her garde over the past few years. What I mean is that she no longer seems to worry about appearances, focused instead on what truly matters in life: her loved ones’ happiness (whatever their shortcomings may be) and her own… I recently took mom with me to Corsica for her grandson’s wedding (pictures below). She doesn’t get to travel much anymore as dad has become increasingly weak in his legs. So this was a real treat for her. It was a short flight from Bordeaux to Ajaccio, but it reminded us of a lovely memory: us in 1977 on the exact same flight. Forty years later, I got bigger and fatter and she got smaller and wiser. The flight attendant was kind enough to take a picture of us and I stuck it on top of one that had been taken on the 1977 flight… I love this little collage… One of the reasons I haven’t blogged much is that she had to have one of a hips replaced a few months back and I had to take care of her and my dad. It was my pleasure to do it, but it took a lot of my time. But even as she was there, lying in her bed, utterly vulnerable (with bone cancer to make everything even more fun for everyone involved) she never lost her positive attitude. One morning, as I was serving her breakfast and she was taking her pills, she said (and she was being quite serious): “I wonder how all those old folks manage to take so many different pills every day.” Yes, she’s 86! Her incredible disposition reminds me every day that enjoying life and sharing that joy with others (even people I don’t know) should continue to be a priority in my life. It is also, as my blogger friends know, great therapy!

Then there are my lovely readers and friends like Mimi, Ashley or Jil. These guys just know how to make me feel good about my art and the choices I make every day. Mimi is so supportive and would almost make me believe that I am a talented photographer. Ashley makes sure I never run out of BBQ sauce (impossible to find in France) because she knows that nothing makes my soul sing like a rack of ribs. And then there’s Jil… I’ve never even met Jil. All I know is that she likes to read my little blog posts and that it makes her light inside shine a little brighter. And I can feel that light shine even better from here, thousands of miles away, amplified, warm… important. Here’s a picture of Mimi and Jil. Can you feel the goodness and the love just by looking at it? I sure can!

Last but not least there is the odd reader like Sadie (read her message below) who reads my post on vichyssoise and shares it with a cook lost somewhere in the far North who’d just received a box of leeks by error and had no idea what to do with them. Just the idea that your words or your photos can lift someone’s spirit or help them even in the most modest of ways is so so powerful to me. The idea that they may be living in the woods of Siberia or right down the street from me… That’s powerful too!

Message: Bonjour (encore)? Does that translate as 'hello again?" Anyway I wanted to let you know that I follow a young blogger currently working as a cook at a lodge on an island in Northern Manitoba, Canada. Recently they were incorrectly shipped a box of leeks:  https://theannabrown.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/the-camel-of-all-vegetables/
 You had recently posted the Vichyssoise recipe... et voila! (You can see the transpiring effects in the comments.) A great story of modern media for a good cause! "It's a small world after all."

Au revoir,

So here is the recipe that saved the day for some cook somewhere in the world and then, just for fun, some photos from that wedding I took mom to…

If potato leek soup has never been anything new, the French Chef of The Ritz-Carlton New York (the original one), woke up one day and decided he would serve it cold. His name was Louis Diat and the year was 1917. Louis was born near the town of Vichy in France. Soup is a feminine word in French “UNE soupe” and since ladies who live in Vichy are called Vichyssoises… there you go :0)

Louis is known to have said: “Without garlic, I wouldn’t care to live”. Personally I would add butter to the list :0)

I must say I hadn’t had Vichyssoise since my childhood, but I recently found the recipe in one of my grandma’s boxes and decided to give it a go. Maybe it would bring back some of those beloved memories… It totally did!

  • The recipe is cheap as dirt.
  • It is ridiculously easy to make.
  • You can make it in advance of a lunch or dinner party and keep it in the fridge for two to three days.
  • Last but not least, very few people know of this dish or ever make it. This makes for a great surprise and conversation piece for your next dinner party.

For 4 people:

– 11oz of leeks – that’s about two regular size leeks – (mostly the white part)
– 18oz of potatoes (2 medium potatoes)
– 1 tablespoon of butter
– 1 smallish onion
– 4 cups of chicken broth or stock
– 1 cup of milk
– 3oz of crème fraîche (heavy cream)
– Chopped chives for decoration
– Salt, black pepper, nutmeg

  1. Wash your vegetables and chop them up.
  2. Put onions and leeks in a pot with the butter and cook over low heat for a few minutes while stirring. Don’t let them color. You just want them to become softer.
  3. Add your chicken stock and potatoes and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Mix your soup in a blender.
  5. Pour the mixture back into the pot and add the milk, the cream as well as salt, pepper and nutmeg to your taste. I quite like the kick nutmeg gives to any potato dish, so I put about a quarter of a nut worth (a small teaspoon).
  6. Serve ice cold with chives as a proper Vichyssoise or steaming hot with croutons as a wonderful potato leek soup. Both will blow your mind in their own way!

63 Comments Add yours

  1. anniedm778 says:

    I am suffering from writer’s block on my blog for some time now. You’ve definitely inspired me to pick up my pen and begin again! And cook a little vichyssoise as well!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Glad to hear that! I need to find inspiration again myself 😉

  2. gypsygurl64 says:

    Lovely to see a new blog post from you! I’ve missed all your lovely photos and reminiscings!

  3. terrepruitt says:

    Stéphane, you take GREAT pictures. What a lovely wedding.

  4. Julie says:

    It’s so good to see you back, Stephane! 🙂

  5. I came over from Mimi’s blog and I must say I wish I had stumbled upon your blog sooner. The potato and leek soup is such a comforting-looking dish that I can slurp up a huge bowl any day.

    Good health is the one thing I always wish for my family and friends and I’m glad your mother is doing better now, take care!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      What a lovely comment Jasline! Thank you and welcome to my French heaven!

  6. Craving4More says:

    I am soooooo glad you’re back!!!! ❤️💜❤️💜❤️

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you my dear friend!!

  7. Sabine says:

    Bonjour Stéphane, one more person here who´s glad you´re back. Taking care of your parents while they´re not well is the most honorable thing to do. Hope your maman is doing better now….

    1. My French Heaven says:

      She is feeling great these days. Thank you dear Sabine! 😘🍷🇫🇷

      1. Sabine says:

        that´s wonderful to hear! 🙂

  8. Andrea says:

    So glad you are back. I love the pictures and your outlook on life.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you Andrea! Glad to be back 😉

  9. chefkreso says:

    Lovely post and a lovely recipe, thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. Jody Larimore says:

    How wonderful to see you blog! Excited that you have returned. J >

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Jody! I hope you are well!

  11. Add my welcome back to everyone else’s. Here are the many ways this post affected me: the way you talk about your mother, even after months of caring for her and your dad, shows me your priorities are priceless. Your appreciation of friends is wonderful and warm. The soup recipe makes enjoying French food accessible. And one thought about the photos of the wedding (loved the plane pics comparison). I saw the groom has a little boy. I immediately flashed on convincing my 5-year-old (now 35) to wear a “costume” for my wedding to his stepfather. We compromised a bit to get him out of pull up elastic waist paints and a sweatshirt into a button down shirt and black pants. He and my future husband went and bought ties to match. Thanks for the sweet touch there you never intended.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I’ve been blogging for a long time in this is one of the most touching and heart warming comments I have ever received. Thank you so very much for your kind words!!! Have a lovely weekend now 😉

  12. Nadia says:

    So glad you are back. I missed you and your blogs and magnificent photographs.
    Every blogger has to take time off now and then, so is life.

  13. Carl says:

    Good post! We are in Rome.

  14. Yayyy you are back!! Along with a light fresh breeze here in the Gers after the exhausting canicule, I am so enjoying to read you today, things could not get any better! I am dreaming away with your brilliant photography as ever. Bisous for you and thank you for warming our hearts!! xx

    1. My French Heaven says:

      What a lovely comment my friend! Yes, it feels much better outside today. I may even go out and do some much needed garden chores 😉

  15. Great to have you back, funnily enough I was just thinking the other day that I hadn’t read anything from you in a long while! I know just what you mean about blogging, it takes a lot of time and effort. Love the photos, love the recipe, certainly one for me to keep. If ever you are up in the Charente Maritime do come and say hello and have lunch, we are not too far away after all.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Susan! You know my brother lives in your neck of the woods, so I may take you up on that lovely invitation one day!! 😉 It’s cooled down today. We can finally go outside again… Can’t wait for fall to come. I like cold weather better 😉

  16. So lovely to have you back, Stephane. I recently checked whether I’d missed posts as I wondered where you were! Such a delight to see your wonderful photos again and hear you ‘voice’ through the blog. Keep blogging please!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I will my dear dear Kay! I will! 😉

  17. Ahhhh Stéphane, finding your post in my readerboard was like finding a long lost favorite blanket! Welcome back, my dear friend! I did miss you indeed. I’m off on other adventures myself and not posting much, but think of you often. As always, your photographs amaze and inspire me too. XOXOXO

    1. My French Heaven says:

      What a lovely note my dear friend! It makes me smile every time I see your little avatar on the left of my screen. I know good vibrations are coming my way when I see it 😉 Have a love lovely day!!!

  18. solaner says:

    Stéphane, not only those ladies missed your posts, me too. Glad to have you back and your fantastic food photography.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you so much! Great to be back. Now I have to stick at it 😉

  19. judilyn says:

    How entirely lovely to have you and your wonderful productions back! Someone commented on an old blog of mine the other day – about the LaGonda – and I wondered about your car blog. This, of course, led to my mental inquiry about your food blog.

    Looking forward to many beautiful dishes that you will find to share!

    Virtual hugs,


    1. My French Heaven says:

      Oh my dear Judie, it is so good to have you all back in my life! I send you a warm warm hug through the ether 😉

  20. Robert Hyman says:

    Your artistic and culinary insight were missed. I am a relatively new
    follower of your blog. Actually was concerned when your blog disappeared. Your mother is a lovely, remarkable woman so you
    have good genes. Love the” Special Vichyssoise for My Muses”!!
    merci beaucoup

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Robert! I will tell her you said so! As for the good genes, I think they may have skipped a generation 🙂 My nephews are much more handsome than their old uncle I’m afraid 😀

  21. Barbara says:

    I am so glad that you are back!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you so much Barbara! Glad to feel all the love you guys are sending! 🙂

  22. Glad to have you back. I always enjoyed it and made many of your recipes.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Steve! Now I have to keep at it. That’s the hard part 😉

  23. chef mimi says:

    You believe us!!! Mon Dieu, it took you long enough!!! We are so moved by your lovely posts, your inspiring photography, and of course your passion for all things French. Keep posting! And keep your fingers crossed that we can visit you in 2018!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You’d better!

  24. Eha says:

    Make both vichyssoise and potage parmentier often but never knew the story: would not have thought the name came from outside France! Thank you!! Beautiful collage and may I follow others above in sayng your Maman looks fabulous . . .

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you so much! I will tell her. It will make her day 😉

  25. yogaleigh says:

    Must have been something in the air about you — I just decided a couple of days ago I was going to hunt for your e-mail address and drop a note to see if you’re okay 🙂 Lovely to see you back. And you ARE a good photographer. Your nephew and his bride will treasure those shots!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Oh that is so kind of you Leigh! See, you just proved my point 😉

  26. Linda Duffin says:

    How lovely to have you back, you have been much missed. Lovely too to see your homage to your muses, especially your indomitable mother and the lovely Mimi, who I’ve never met but feel I almost know. Your photographs, as ever, are a joy. Warmest best wishes, Linda.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you my dear Linda! Yes, it’s good to find the old tribe again 😉😊

  27. ladyredspecs says:

    Glad to see you back Stephane, I’ve missed your posts. As an irregular IG user I sometimes see your beautiful photos there, but blogging seems to give you much more of a connection. It’s the power of words… Your Mum looks incredible for her age and what she has been through

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you dear friend ! Yes, blogging is better! 😉

  28. Francesca says:

    Welcome back . You were missed by many. The photo collage is superb .

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you dear Francesca!!

  29. Welcome back, Stéphane! Fabulous recipe, gorgeous photos!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you dear Tamara! So happy to find my old blogging friends again !

  30. malgay651 says:

    Your writing and images are always welcome, informative and full of life.
    How lucky are we that you are posting. Thank you.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are too kind my friend!!! Always so nice to receive your lovely comments 😉

  31. Dawn says:

    Glad to see you again. Lovely photos!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Dawn!! Have a lovely evening!

  32. masiemusings says:

    Stephane, I was so delighted to have the pleasure of meeting your wonderful
    parents when we stayed at your lovely B & B. I am delighted she has recovered to travel to what looks like a great family celebration.
    We are planning a wedding for our daughter who has declared she would like to get married in France so bearing in mind our budget if you know of any chateau locally please let me know.
    Delighted you are returning to blogging, both Roy and I really enjoyed them.

    With Kindest Regards, Fiona McLellan

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Hi Fiona! So good to hear from you! My niece is getting married in September at Château Saint Georges in Montagne (half a mile from the house). I’m sure you saw it when you were here. It’s on top of the hill… Here’s a link. I don’t think they are very expensive… http://chateau-saint-georges.com/z/index.php

  33. Glad to see you back! Yes – your posts make my life better! It’s a mini vacation every time that brings me back to what is important in life: Friends, family, food, and joie de vivre!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      So true! Thanks for dropping by ! 🙂

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