The French consider cooking an art and their cuisine is famous and popular around the world. French cookbooks date back to the Middle Ages and French standards were the early gauge of cooking. Nouvelle cuisine which emerged in the 1960’s was a reaction to the current heavy style of cooking used at that time using rich ingredients. While many of the Nouvelle cuisine dishes were made with expensive ingredients they were much lighter, portions were smaller and the presentation more artistic.
About this time Julia Child emerged as a popular American chef, author and television personality. She brought French cuisine to the American public with her debut cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her subsequent television programs, the most notable of which was the French Chef, premiered in 1963. In the 1970’s and 1980’s she was the star of numerous cooking shows on television and authored several more cookbooks. I do have to make note of Child’s signature use of ingredients butter and cream which had often come under fire by food critics and nutritionists. In a 1990 interview she addressed these critics saying, “Everybody is overreacting. If fear of food continues,it will be the death of gastronomy in the United States. Fortunately, the French don’t suffer from the same hysteria we do. We should enjoy food and have fun. It is one of the simplest and nicest pleasures in life.”
So with that being said let’s move on to the second course
Quelle est la soupe du jour?
What is the soup of the day?
French soups are categorized in two broad groups clear and thick.
Clear soups are bouillon and consommé and thick soups vary depending on the thickening agent used like cream, béchamel, starch, flour, rice or grain.
Some of the soups enjoyed in France
- Cream of Dijon Mustard with Alsatian Sausage
- Chicken Consommé,
- Tomato Cream with Basil and Pesto
- French Onion, Bell Pepper Cream
- Creamy Cappuccino with Mushrooms
- Cream of Cauliflower with Strips of Ham
- French Beef Consommé .
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- 2 TB. butter
- 3 TB. flour mixed with 1/3 cup chicken broth
- 2 cans chicken broth-low sodium and fat free
- 1 TB. brown sugar
- 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree not pie filling
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/3 cup extra broth
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 large potato peeled and chopped
- In a large pot over medium melt butter,add onion and potato cook about 8 minutes
- Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low and cook till potato is tender 10-12 minutes
- Stir in pumpkin till mixture is smooth. Use a blender to puree mixture in batches and then return to the pot
- Add in spices, sugar and flour that has been mixed with an additional 1/3 cup of broth
- Bring to a boil on a medium heat, cover and then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes
- Uncover and stir in cream and heat thoroughly but do not boil
- Serves 6-8
Cook's notes: I was surprised how much I loved this soup since it was the first time I had tried pumpkin soup. It was part of the second course of a home hosted meal in a little town called Tain. I emailed Thomas whose home we were at. He used a real pumpkin cooking it much like a squash. I substituted puree for that ingredient. The soup texture is thick and creamy so it would be served in small bowls or cups. This recipe came in English but the other two recipes requested (chicken dish and lava cakes) came in French!! I am working on getting them translated. If anyone reads French let me know.