Tag Archives: soup

Courgette and goat cheese soup and raucous men

Neither Luc nor I are fans of shopping, especially shopping together. You know those couples you see casually and contentedly wandering around shops hand in hand? That will never be us. Lockdown suited very well from that point of view; one of us went shopping (usually Luc as he thinks I’m an irrational, inefficient and irresponsible shopper), and the rest was bought online.

But we needed new patio furniture and decided to brave the garden centre. I was very happy to try out the swing sets and suspended deck chairs, which I discovered weren’t properly anchored, while Luc frantically looked around for someone to help us. We’d been told that ‘Emilie’ was the salesperson to look for, but she was proving difficult to pin down. Problem solved: Luc planted himself in the middle of the expansive furniture section and absolutely boomed ‘E-M-I-L-I-E!’. After that it was plain sailing; eight dining chairs and two deckchairs were chosen, paid for, and loaded in under 10 minutes, and I hobbled out only slightly bruised.

Because I’m old and broken (see above), I visit my physiotherapist twice a week. He loves to sing as he works, and last week launched into a charmingly boisterous rendition of an old French song about a once — but no longer — glorious, unseaworthy, abandoned ship: ‘Quand je pense à la vielle anglaise…’ (when I think of the old English woman…) Bursting into laughter I said ‘I’m so happy to have inspired you!’ Since then, strangely enough, he has refrained from refrains.

This is a lovely, quick and easy soup for Spring.

Ingredients (serves 6)

45g butter

1 onion, peeled and sliced

2 shallots, peeled and sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

200g leeks, washed and chopped

450g courgettes, washed and cut into rounds

1 large potatoes, peeled and sliced

1l chicken stock (or vegetable if you prefer)

1 teaspoon paprika

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

150g soft goat’s cheese

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions, shallots and garlic, fry for about five minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add the leeks, courgettes and potato coating in the butter and cook for a few minutes longer. Add the stock and seasoning and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the goat’s cheese and blend the soup until smooth.

Cock~a~leekie, mugger ponies and cocky pheasants

As always seems to be the case in October (mushroom season), everyone is acting randomly. I was mugged by a pony yesterday morning: Our neighbour’s Houdini pony who spends more time out of his field than in. The little sod ran off with my cross-body handbag that I had used as a makeshift halter trying to put him back in the field. It was a great photo op., but of course he had my ‘phone.

We are slowed down leaving the house in the car since a cock peasant moved in, with his harem of hen pheasants, to the woodland in our driveway. He insists on walking directly in front of the car all the way down the sandy track that leads from our house to the road. He’s either graciously escorting us to the road, or he’s a nutter control-freak – I haven’t decided which yet. It might be more beneficial though to channel his energy into his chaotic home situation; his wives spend their time in noisy squabbling which results in feathers flying everywhere. Maybe I could try to sort them out with my handbag too.

Last of all, the humans, who are frankly no better. I don’t think there’s anything that makes the rural French as fiercely competitive as mushroom season. On my way to the main road through the woods yesterday, I was trapped by a car blocking the path. It was very inconvenient – as there wasn’t room to turnaround, I had to reverse down a narrow sandy path with trees on each side. Sweating and cursing, I came across six or seven people scattered around the woods, eyes manically fixed to the ground, and I asked each of them if it was their car blocking the path. Nobody admitted to it, but each one gave me advice on how to deal with the rogue car owner. The advice ranged from calling the police or leaving a vindictive note to puncturing his tyres or smashing a window. I assume this advice was so generously given on the basis that it would result in one person fewer to share the mushrooms with…

Ingredients (serves 6)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 chicken, jointed into pieces

4 carrots, chopped

2 sticks of celery, chopped

2 leeks, rinsed and cut into rounds

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 glass of white wine

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs of thyme

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Fry the chicken pieces in batches until golden brown, then remove and set aside. Add the carrots, celery leeks and garlic, and fry for five minutes until everything turns golden brown.

Add the the wine and bring to the boil. Return the chicken pieces with the herbs and seasoning and add enough cold water to cover. Slowly bring to the boil, then simmer for 40 mins until the chicken is tender.

Remove the chicken and leave to cool slightly. Pull the meat from the chicken bones and tear into large chunks. Return to the saucepan and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Lentil dahl soup

Spicy lentil soup might seem a rather unexpected choice for the South of France in the middle of July, but I’m indulging the locals who, poor things, are at the end of their weather-tethers. It is unseasonably cool this Summer with many days not getting above the low 20s. Anything under 40°C  in July and August in this region is unacceptable and strictly for namby-pambies (Parisians). It gives carte blanche for unrestricted and expansive whingeing, as well as countless visits to the doctor for weather-related complaints such as ‘chills’ and acute depression.

Puy lentils have a delicious earthy flavour and are packed full of goodness – protein in the form of amino acids and fibre. They are also an excellent source of iron and B vitamins. What better for a cold Summer day 😉

Ingredients (serves four)

200g Puy lentils

2 diced tomatoes

1 large onion

2 carrots, sliced

Tablespoon of olive oil

Tablespoon of coconut oil

6 cloves of garlic

fresh grated ginger

seasoning to taste (seasalt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin, tumeric)

Put the lentils, diced tomatoes, onion, carrots and seasoning into a large saucepan containing 2.5 litres of boiling water. Bring the water back to the boil and then simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes.

Five minutes before the soup is ready, heat the oils in a frying pan and gently fry the garlic and ginger until golden brown. Add to the soup, mix well and simmer for a few more minutes. Serve with chickpea pancakes which will be the subject of my next post…