From from my earliest very impressionable days of learning to cook I rapidly became an incredible food snob but I hope I have retained some sense of 'keep it simple' regarding how food is described. Classical French cooking has always seemed very complicated, almost another language. There was a time when rather too many UK restaurants and cookbooks gave all their dishes french names regardless of their culinary origins. Pub chips never were pommes frites, and a typical school dinner style egg and bacon pie was never a Quiche Lorraine; food trends, what is new, but I digress. The point I want to make is that if I had been served this soup in an English restaurant as' Potage Crécy' in the 1970's I might well have grumbled that it was just carrot soup, but it is none the less French, and when finished with a little cream, a garnish of chervil and some good french bread you understand how nuanced and superior a lot of french cooking was (and is?) to its English counterpart.
This very simple soup relies on the quality of flavour in the carrots, but is perfect for times when you want a soup with minimal preparation. I have lost my original recipe and more often than not guess amounts when I make this soup, but this should be a good guide for you:
500g peeled and chopped carrots
500ml water or vegetable stock / or use a good bouillion powder
20g uncooked long grain rice
salt & pepper
2-3 tbs cream single, whipping or double, or can be omitted altogether
few fronds of chervil cleaned (parsley or chives as alternatives)
- In a medium size pan melt the butter and then gently sweat the chopped carrots without browning them for a few minutes until just starting to soften a little.
- Add the water or stock, rice and a small amount salt and pepper, if using stock powder you may not need additional salt at all.
- Cover the pan and bring to a gentle simmer, then cook at a simmer until the carrots are quite tender, which can take at least 30 minutes.
- Allow the soup to cool for a few minutes and then using a stick blender puree the soup.
- Stir in the cream, if you are using it, adding just enough to enrichen the soup without losing the freshness of the carrots. Taste as you add. Dilute with a little water if the soup is too thick.
- Add any further salt and pepper to season to your taste and bring the soup back up to simmer point again.
- Pour into bowls and garnish with leaves of chervil.
The rolls I served with my soup were based on a recipe from a book by French baker Richard Bertinet. I have to admit my rolls did not shape up so chic as the ones in the book. I think I have managed to anglicize them as they should have been skinny and pointy not short and round. Never mind they had a lovely crisp crust and tender centre so correct in some ways.
Place onto lined trays and leave to almost double in size
Ovens can be tricky, I baked the first tray with my oven on the 'Bread Bake' setting and they came out with quite a dull crust.
I made a second batch of soup with a little more cream added and some milk, as a few recipes suggest this. I prefer the version without milk and just a little cream, it tastes fresher. I pulled some walnut and bacon rolls out of the freezer for this meal and they went really well. These rolls are from another french baker, Eric Kayser's book le Larousse du Pain. This is available in the original french version or as an English translation. More errors seem to slip into translated books so I stick to the original if at all feasible.My next link is from France to Morocco. The French like so many european nations were wide reaching colonizers. Morocco had been under French control for over forty years when it achieved independence in 1956. French post offices were established in Morocco with the use of French stamps simply overprinted with 'Protectorate Francais' and a local value. The french language is not an official language now, but is widely taught and used in commerce, education, sciences and government. I shall be cooking up a very seasonal winter squash soup flavoured with spices and harissa, as well as some unusual flatbreads called Meloui