James Bond food creme vichyssoise

Crème Vichyssoise

What does the detective Achille Aubergene (Jean Rougerie) eat in the Eiffel Tower’s famous Jules Verne restaurant in A View To A Kill (1985)? We know it’s soup of some kind, as Roger Moore’s James Bond tells a waiter, after Aubergene’s unfortunate demise, that there’s a fly in it. Precisely what type of soup, though, it is difficult to say.

The obvious choice would be cream of aubergine soup, but I’m not so sure this is correct. Apart from the fact that the detective’s name is not actually spelt ‘aubergine’, the soup is best prepared by roasting the aubergine (eggplant) first, and the result is a concoction with a pale brown or purplish hue and definitely not the soup in the restaurant, which is white. 

There are any number of French soups that are creamy and white in appearance, among them soupe de poisson and potage de bonne femme among them,  and soups that have been served at the Eiffel Tower include cream of mushroom soup, cream of cauliflower soup, and the improbable-sounding cream of corn and popcorn soup. However, I’m going for Crème Vichyssoise, a cold cream of leek and potato soup which isn’t technically a French soup at all, but one invented by French chef Louis Diat at the Ritz-Carlton in New York in 1917. It has, though, become famous around the world and is served at top restaurants. And, well, Crème Vichyssois just sounds more Bondian than soupe de choufleur.

If a cold soup doesn’t appeal (it is delicious, though), the soup can be served warm, in which case it becomes potage parmentier

Serves four

  • c 300g white part of leeks (2 or 3 leeks), sliced
  • c 300g potatoes (2 or 3 medium-sized potatoes), peeled and diced
  • 1 stick celery, sliced
  • 35g unsalted butter
  • 700ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 100ml double cream
  • 50ml milk
  • Generous pinch black pepper
  • Pinch salt
  • Tbsp finely chopped parsley or chives

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. When it has melted and begun to bubble, add the leeks, potatoes and celery. Stir to coat the vegetables in the butter and cook them for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the leeks have begun to soften. Pour in the stock, add the salt and pepper, bring to the boil, then cover the pan and reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, by which time the vegetables should be soft. 

Remove the pan from the heat. Pour the soup into a blender and liquidise. Return the soup to the pan, check for seasoning (if necessary, add a touch more salt) and allow it to cool. Stir in the cream and milk until they are well mixed, then refrigerate the soup for 2-3 hours. Before serving, sprinkle some parsley or chives over the top. (If serving the soup warm, gently re-heat the soup after adding the cream and milk.)

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