Tag Archives: soup

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…