LYL: côte d’azur cure-all soup
Last week, Howard and I took a brief tropical interlude from winter, visiting our parents in South Florida. When we returned mid-week, the snow piles were noticeably smaller, but Old Man Winter has made it clear that even today, on the first day of spring, he’s not quite ready to give up his grip on cold weather. It’s been downright cold with a dusting of snow expected later today.
Fortunately, this week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie was the perfect antidote to days of the typical vacation diet (too much) and readjusting to cold temperatures. Côte d’Azur Cure-All Soup reminded me of the “stone soup” story. Who would think that a head of garlic and some herbs simmered in water would be something good to eat? Though the ingredients didn’t seem promising, this is truly a recipe for making something from practically nothing.
You start by slicing an entire head of garlic into thin slices. This step was tedious, but not terrible. Oh, was I ever missing the never-used mini-garlic mandoline that I discarded in my last kitchen drawer purge… You really never know when you’ll need something. I wish I’d put in the box with the spaetzle press that turned out to be so useful, rather than the Goodwill bag.
The slivered garlic, a bouquet garni of thyme and sage sprigs and some bay leaves, and some salt are simmered in water for half an hour. I was surprised by how much flavor the resulting broth had. It definitely tasted of garlic, but mellow with no residual sharpness or bitterness.
Dorie gives the option to puree or not to puree. (I chose not to puree which is said to be more traditional.) To finish the soup, egg yolks are whisked with grated Parmesan cheese. (More egg whites to use, getting tired of croquants!) Then the cheesy blob is tempered with some warm soup before whisking it back into the broth.
I wasn’t sure what would end up in the pot with the various warnings and caveats in the recipe. The egg yolks were meant to thicken the soup. The warm soup mixed with the egg mixture was meant to prevent curdling. I was imagining something between Chinese egg drop soup and Greek Avgolemono soup. When the egg and cheese mixture was mixed back in, the soup became opaque and a pale lemony yellow. It remained smooth and thickened only slightly. I could have added more egg yolks to make it thicker, but I decided not to.
I drizzled some olive oil from Provence on each bowl and served this as a starter before a quick version of cassoulet for our first post-vacation home-cooked meal, one with a French twist.
The soup was light and flavorful. Even though it was good, I’m not sure I’d make it again. I’d be more likely to try the imagined egg drop or Avgolemono soup, neither of which I’ve made before.