Thursday, March 9, 2017


Apparently this is Soup Week.  In one magazine I encountered an article on the health benefits of soup. Another, Cote Paris,  did a 6 page spread on beautiful bowls of soup. In addition, there were radio programs with people calling in their favorite soup recipe, a special shelf at the library dedicated to soup cookbooks, and folks exchanging ideas for soups at the corner grocery.  But I know that this isn’t Soup Week.  Soup craving is just another sign of the slow ending of winter.

Our end of winter weather is capricious, a few teases of sunshine and warmth, but days mostly tending to grey, cold, and rainy. Our brains yearn for comfort and our bodies crave minerals and vitamins. 

What better way to remedy the situation than to cook up a big batch of soup. I’ve taken to trying out a new recipe every week. Sometimes the decision is made by what’s available at the market. Sometimes we crave something a little spicy or exotic after too much “French” food. Sometimes I’m just too intrigued by a name to not try it out: London Particular, Cullen Skink, Krupnik, Toyga Corbasi, Cania de Galinha. Often it is the same ingredients with just one or two change ups of spices. But somehow they do present differences in ethnic flavor.
Here is my favorite discovery from this winter’s tryouts.  It’s not the healthiest, nor the most beautiful unless you sprinkle it with a few edible flowers, but it is the most sublime.

(**I learned the hard way that it should be served right away. The blue cheese turns into a pushy flavor bully if made ahead of time.)

Pear-Blue Cheese Soup 
(from Soup Night  Recipes for Creating Community, by Maggie Stuckey A great cookbook and an inspiration for connecting with one’s neighborhood.)

2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion
4 pears, peeled, cored and chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
6 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort or Gorgonzola, crumbled
1/2 tsp paprika
Juice of 1/2 lemon (About 1 1/2 tbsp)
Salt and pepper
Chopped roasted pistachio nuts, for garnish

1 Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the pears and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
2 Add the cheese, paprika, and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until the cheese is melted: taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
3 Transfer the soup to a blender (careful, it’s hot) - or better yet use a stick blender. Purée until smooth.
4 Return the soup to the pot and reheat gently until hot enough to serve. Garnish each serving with chopped pistachios.

Here’s another recipe that I can’t resist giving you. It is from a lovely book “L’Art de Vivre au Fil des Jours”. (The Art of Living from Day to Day) by Victoire de Montesquiou.

Her soup for the month of March is Potage of Stinging Nettle. Yes, stinging nettles, the very same wicked plant I have avoided since falling up to my elbows in a patch of it at the age of 6. Let me just tell you I have avoided it like the plague -until I moved to France. Here in the countryside they are obsessed with it’s nutritional powers - another blog in the wings……

Stinging Nettle Soup (recette d’Arton)

preparation time 10 minutes - cooking time 30 minutes
for 6 people

- a large bouquet of stinging nettle gathered wearing gloves (young sprigs)
- 2 potatoes
30 grams of butter
1.5 liters of water
100 grams cream fraîche
a pinch of salt and pepper

Supposedly the nettle loses it’s sting three hours after it is picked.  Right.  Who’s going to give up the gloves to test that? 

Wash the stinging nettle and cut into morsels. Peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes. Melt the butter in a large pot. Add potatoes and stinging nettle and stir for 5 minutes. When the leaves start to wilt cover with water. Add salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. Blend until smooth. (careful it’s hot.) Reheat at low heat and add cream fraîche. Still without letting the soup boil. Serve right away.

You can accompany the soup with croutons or bacon crumbles.
Here are 2 Blogs that you might like to check out - of course they all had soup recipes recently, too.

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