Last weekend we had a number of storms sweep through the Pacific Northwest. It rained so hard that we had standing water in our backyard, a rarity. In a matter of hours my grandparents' barometer dropped from the Y of "Stormy" (gold dial hand) to below the S (black hand). It had been straight up earlier in the day. I took this Sunday night around 9 p.m., just as a storm front was moving in from the south.
I took this photo from my office on Monday, the same day a tornado touched down about 20 miles away. It was pouring when I took this.
When it's stormy I like to put on slippers, cuddle up with a book or some knitting, and have soup. Or, if I'm at work, I put on a pair of slippers and have a cup of tea while I do something exciting... like reconcile a budget and track down paperwork.
So today marks the first of a few soup posts.
My French host mother, Marie-Claude, makes a brilliant green puree called potage. She makes it "au pif" (by the nose), by raiding her pantry and assembling a variety of vegetables from whatever she has on hand. My favorites were the bright green ones.
I googled recipes for it and found some potages that seemed similar to hers. Some were in English, others in French. They all seem to have a base of potatoes, some have apples or carrots. Taking inspiration where it comes, I decided to deviate from the recipe path and attempt to recreate hers from 17-year-old memories.
Here's the result. The parsnip is a hidden gem in this, giving it a mild sweetness. I used mustard greens and feared they'd overpower everything else. They didn't. That said, I think I'll switch to spinach next time and add it in at the very end in order to maintain its bright color. I used bouillon cubes because, well, there were two left in the box and I wanted it out of the cupboard. I wouldn't use chicken stock in this recipe unless you really want to, as it can quickly become the dominant flavor in this delicate soup.
Make yours "au pif" using ingredients you have on hand. It's essentially a vegetable puree with greens. If you have a pressure cooker, pull it out for even faster cooking times.
Un hommage en potage
5 cups water
3 large potatoes (~1 pound), peeled and diced
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
1 leek, sliced thinly
2 vegetable or chicken bouillon cubes (replace water with stock if you prefer)
2 cloves of garlic
1 bunch greens of your choice, cleaned and tough stalks removed
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper
Optional toppings: creme fraiche, half-and-half, croutons, toasted & chopped nuts, truffle oil, chopped parsley or chives
1. Bring water to a boil with the potatoes, parsnip, leek, bouillon or stock, and garlic. Allow to simmer gently until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the greens, salt, and pepper and cook until tender, about 7-8 minutes.
3. Puree your soup in a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender.
4. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.
5. Finish your soup with your preferred topping and serve with a crusty bread. Costco makes an awesome roasted garlic bread, which is what I had.
CANNING NOTE: I did not can any of my Soup Week soups. I stored them in the fridge in canning jars for ease of finding and accessing them. If you want to can your soups, use the National Center for Home Food Preservation website's guidelines for canning soup. The potage could easily be canned, though I'm not confident that the quality of the greens would be good after a long processing.
Next post, a sweet, savory, smokey take on squash.