Coriander and Lemongrass “Vichyssoise” | A Cold Soup

Although I don’t make them often, I do love a cold soup in Summer.  I am convinced that we should eat more of them, as the Spanish do, to beat the heat of mid day, and of our long and “stinking hot” Summer nights.

We do make a wonderful Avocado and Celery Soup that is a cracker, and of course there is gazpacho, Roast Tomato and Corn Cold Soup and cold Borsch. And now add this Coriander and Lemongrass Vichyssoise to the list.

Elizabeth David, that writer of all things French in the mid 1900’s would turn her nose up at this recipe. Vichyssoise is a classic potato and leek cold soup made by every French housewife. When the English began to make Vichyssoise, they encountered problems. Leeks were out of season before the hot weather began.  And chives were hard to come by. So they began to replace and add a variety of ingredients – cucumbers instead of leeks, mint instead of chives, and so forth. This recipe has some echos of that tinkering.

Browse other Cold Soup recipes and our French recipes. Or explore our easy Late Summer recipes.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006.  You can find other recipes from that blog in our Retro Recipes series.

Coriander and Lemongrass Vichyssoise

(Serves 4)

A cold soup for a hot day.

Stock 60g fresh coriander plants 4 thick stems lemongrass
4 spring onions 900ml vegetable stock or water
Soup 60g butter 2 leeks, peeled and chopped (or use shallots)
300g new potatoes, skins scraped off and potatoes chopped into small pieces 150 ml milk
salt and freshly ground pepper
To Serve lemon slices or pesto

prepare the stock
Remove the leaves from the coriander stalks, reserve the leaves for the soup and use only the stalks for the stock.

Remove the outer layer from the lemon grass and use for the stock. Finely chop the tender centre part and reserve for the soup.

Trim the tops off the spring onions and use for the stock. Finely chop the white part of the spring onions and reserve.

Wash the reserved coriander stalks, lemongrass outer layers and spring onion trimmings and place them in a saucepan with the stock or water and salt to taste. Bring to the boil and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

prepare the soup:
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and add the reserved chopped lemongrass and the chopped leeks and potatoes. Cook over low heat until the vegetables are softened but not brown, approximately 10 minutes.

Strain in the stock and add the milk and about 3/4 of the reserved coriander leaves, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer over a low heat for 25 minutes.

Allow the soup to cool a little then pour into a blender or processor and process until smooth. Pour through a strainer into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

Transfer the soup to individual chilled bowls, garnish with the remaining coriander leaves and reserved chopped spring onions, and float lemon slices on top. Alternatively, add a dollop of pesto.

recipe notes and alternatives
Use chives in place of spring onions for the garnish, as they have a gentler taste and won’t overwhelm the soup.



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