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Frenchie and a Bowl of Soup

18 Nov

When the team at the Charlotte Agenda asked me for a fall-inspired recipe, a soup came to mind immediately.

Some might say what’s a soup other than random vegetables puréed and mixed together?

Sounds too simple. Sounds too easy.

But a soup is so much more. A soup is complex.

First, a soup is texture. How will it feel as soon as the spoon touches your tongue? How will it linger after the first mouthful? What was added to the bowl to make it an interesting meal experience?

A soup is character. How well do the ingredients and intertwined flavors complement one another? Does it take on a new dimension as you continue eating?

A soup is also art. Will it charm your guests after the first taste? A well-styled bowl of soup to trigger excitement and happiness, bringing emotions to the eyes as you look down at the bowl placed in front of you – big spoon in hand.

But a soup is also comfort. The relief felt from feeling warmer after a cold winter walk. Smiling as both hands hold the heated bowl. Eased at the idea of eating something nutritious. Comforted when sick and bed stricken – grandma and grandpa lovingly caring with a pot of simmering soup going on the stove. Perhaps there will be toasted bread? Or croutons? I hope it will be creamy and a bit spicy.

Mange ta soupe, ça te fera du bien.

A bowl of soup to feel better. 

A bowl of soup to ease the pain.

A bowl of soup to warm bodies and souls.

And sometimes, a bowl of soup is all we need to find serenity and support while gathering with friends around a steaming pot at the dinner table. When we need it the most. When we need a human connection. When we need to talk about life, freedom and personal liberties. When we want to be serious. When we need to laugh and be silly, escaping life for 5 quick seconds.

A bowl of soup to find comfort when tragedy strikes.

A bowl of soup for France and Paris.

Go to the Charlotte Agenda page for more photos and the full recipe of the roasted pumpkin and shallot soup with walnut and spinach pesto croutons.


Frenchie and a Winter Soup

19 Jan

Winter isn’t winter without the distinct flavor and smell of celeriac.

And winter isn’t really winter in the southeast.

So as temperatures started to drop in the area these past couple of weeks, it became clear that winter needed to be celebrated with a thick pureed soup to welcome the mild January cold notes that remind me of much colder weather in Wisconsin and Boston.

This simple soup gets its wonderful texture from the silky-smooth addition of pears while the crispy bacon helps create the overall seasoning.

And starting the new year with a comfort dish makes the heart grow fonder for new adventures in the coming year.

Bonne année !!

Celeriac Soup with Pear and Bacon

Serves 8-10

2-3 oz (55-85 g) of bacon, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp of olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 shallot, diced

1 Tbsp of fennel seeds

1 Tbsp of tarragon, chopped,

2 leeks, white and green, sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup (80 ml) of oaked white wine

2 lb (905 g) of celeriac, peeled and cut in chunks

1 medium Russet potato, peeled and cut in chunks

2 organic pears, 1 pear peeled, cored and cut in chunks, 1 pear washed, cored and thinly sliced

3 cups (70 cl) of water

3 cups (70 cl) of vegetable stock/broth

1 teaspoon of sea salt

freshly ground pepper

1 cup (25 cl) of coconut milk

other herbs as needed for serving (chopped thyme, rosemary, or parsley)

Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C) and line a baking sheet with foil. Cook the bacon in the oven until crispy – depending on taste. Set aside.

In a heavy pot, heat up the olive oil.

Add the onion and shallot, and cook for 4 minutes on medium low until soft.

Add the fennel seeds, the tarragon and the leeks, and cook for another 3 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the wine and cook until absorbed and evaporated.

Add the celeriac, the potato and cook while stirring for 2 minutes.

Add the pear and continue to cook for 1 minute.

Add the water and stock, season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium high. When starting to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

When the vegetables are ready and tender, use a hand-held mixer to puree the soup or use a food processor. Taste the seasoning and adjust the salt, pepper and tarragon if necessary.

Serve the soup in individual bowls. Mix 1 Tbsp of coconut milk in each bowl before serving. Arrange thin slices of the second pear, bacon chunks, pepper, and chopped herbs on top of the soup. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of coconut milk on top and serve.

Frenchie and une Partie de Campagne

4 Sep

Frenchie à la ferme !

Une partie de campagne in August with 100 strangers for a “celebration of community, cuisine and culture”.

The Underwood Family Farm in Lawndale, NC was the stage.

We were the willing actors participating in this end-of-summer Sunday supper.

A gently paced 6-course supper with Serbian and southern influences.

And of course, a French twist as well – a trou normand in the middle of the event with a plum brandy.

It is the kind of event where everything is perfect.

The light, colors, people, animals, details and flowers.

And of course the food.

A kind of event that truly marks the celebration of all things festive.

An artfully crafted sendoff to summer.

A time of year when a light soft sweater is needed at the end of the day as the air feels cool.

Cool air but warm faces as we ate with the setting sun in our eyes.

The people responsible for this gathering and appreciation of meeting friends around the dinner table are Relish Carolina.

They’ve been able to create their own food family and followers like me come to celebrate with them the art of bringing people together around dishes and stories.

And it was only fitting that the first course of this  dinner à la campagne was a chilled cucumber soup with goat cheese panna cotta, chive oil and mint.

Cold cucumber soup has been on the menu almost every week at my house this summer.

A recipe to share here to celebrate this Relish Carolina event.

We all experienced great dinners before.

When everything seems to flow so well and guests are no longer guests but family.

When the food keeps appearing on the table – coming from nowhere and everywhere.

When laughing out loud while getting a second serving of hickory roasted pork shoulder is perfectly fine.

The Underwood family dinner was that kind of moment.

With magic words and food combinations that sound something like olive honey ginger vinegar.

Smoked tomato purée.

Sorghum molasses-peach BBQ sauce.

Kabocha squash sherbet with candied bacon.

And homemade blueberry pie.

A big merci to the hosts and organizers…

… until next year and next season!

Chilled Cucumber Summer Soup with Honeydew

1 lb (500 g) of cucumber – peeled, seeded and diced

16 oz (450 g) of honeydew – diced

5 scallions – chopped

2 garlic cloves – minced

3/4 cup (about 20 g) of mint – chopped

2-3 Tbsp of lemon juice

2 Tbsp of olive oil

2 Tbsp of coconut cream

1/2 teaspoon of paprika

11 oz (300 g) of fromage blanc – replace with Greek yogurt if needed

sea salt and pepper

In a food processor, add and combine all ingredients and purée finely.

Taste for salt and pepper.

Place in the fridge and serve chilled with thin slices of cucumber on top and a sprinkle of paprika.

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