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This is widely thought of as a French chilled leek and potato soup, but was actually invented at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New York, to celebrate the opening of the roof garden in 1910. It was first served to the steel magnate Charles Schwab.
Its originator, Louis Diat, came from the area around Vichy in France, and based his recipe on the hot soup "bonne femme", though in vichyssoise the potatoes and leeks are puréed, not chopped.
Until recently, leeks were hard to find in Britain during the summer months, as they were only grown as a winter vegetable. See "Bonne Femme, soupe"; "Cioppino"; and See our Recipe Section.
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