The Jerusalem Artichoke, a.k.a. in these parts, the topinambour – not just the name of that really good store close to the Parc de Milan (go in for one small thing, come out 100 francs later). Despite its appearance that looks as if it might start squirming larva-like over your counter, this oddity started life as a very, very pretty flower in the heat of summer and needs the first frosts of winter to render it ready for the table. True, it has a particular taste, and some tell too of a particular after-effect, but done right, it can turn out to be really rather good. Read more
Posts tagged ‘soup’
It’s the kind of day you have one of two paths to take: go outside, huddled up in scarves, gloves and coat and remind yourself why it is you’re damned lucky to have a roof over your head and a warm radiator to curl up beside. Or just stay inside, think all those things, and make pumpkin and apple soup.
It wasn’t just the hour change that signalled winter this morning. In a few days we’ve gone tumbling from sunny and 20° to minus something, snow, and a bise mordante as they said with an amused chortle on the radio (given that a stiff northeast wind is a bise, and if it’s a particularly cold one it’s a bise noire… you get the idea of what a bise mordante might mean). It’s been a weekend for sheltering from the elements rather than reveling in them. Read more
The display panel at the CoOp this week says “fraîches et de saison : les baies” (fresh and seasonal berries!), over a mound of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries fresh from under acres of plastic in Spain and plump with dubiously sourced water, blueberries from Argentina (well yes, I suppose it’s the end of summer there), and more strawberries from under some more plastic in Vaud where a good dose of extra fertiliser helps them on a bit. This is fresh and seasonal? I could tell you what I think of all that, but way back in the 1980s, when I first came to live for a while on English soil, a drippingly sloane voice said to me in the rather languid tones of the day, “you do swear rather a lot, don’t you?”
Lesson long learnt, we move swiftly on…
What is in season is the first growth of summer crops. In my basket of vegetables and fruit from P2R were three slim leeks, and a bunch of chives. All achingly young and inviting, as it were. It was soon obvious that my body needed some of that ache and invitation too (the slim part wouldn’t go amiss either). The solution: a light soup for the season, more of a broth really, rather than a heavy, rib-sticking winter version. Quickly done and fresh of taste. Read more
There are a more than a few vegetables that appear at the market in Lausanne, especially in winter, that look a little alien to me. On the other hand, there are a few of my familiars that show up that are just as strange to my neighbours. Quid pro quo, said the parsnip (le panais – mettez-le à rôtir au four…). Topinambour, scorsonères… what are these things? I recognise the navet from school dinners: turnip – so much less romantic sounding when it’s served up in a bleak mash. It turns out topinambour is a Jerusalem artichoke, a name I recognise, but couldn’t tell you what to do with. I tried making a soup once, it wasn’t a great success.
Having done the basics of a hearty soup, here’s one from my grandmother’s heyday: Paris in the twenties. She and her best friend Mano – two fresh young things, up from Marseilles, sharing a flat down the hall from Colette. Mano kept on rocking till she was over 100 years old, clattering about in a rambling apartment in Arles. I last saw her when she was 99 or so, very excited to be expecting her birthday card from the queen (both of them married Englishmen, which made Mano’s favorite expression, “je suis Breteeesh!”). A fine lady. Both of them were.
This was the onion soup they used to eat in the early hours of the morning, two fashionable things somewhere in the Les Halles area after a late night out. More than that, my grandmother never told. But Mano would, for the price of a glass of red.
There are many ponderables in life. Where do we go when we die? Why have kids if we’re sending the planet to hell in a handbasket? What’s the point of a peace movement if people keep on picking an argument? Will teenage boys ever realise that having their jeans hang halfway down their arse just isn’t a good look?
Soup, on the other hand, is a ponderable easily resolved. This post then, for my Regular Reader in Rolle (let’s call her Ramona), who ponders how to make soup without fattening stuff like cream. Fattening stuff is (pretty clearly if you read anything else I write) not really something I fret about. So this is more of a coincidence than a wise counsel. But a serendipitous coincidence, I hope. Read more