Sunday's Soupe Auvergnate
This morning, Loïc and I took a Sunday stroll through the neighborhood and had a cup of coffee at an outdoor café on the riverside near the booksellers. It looked like it might rain, and as we finished our coffee, he asked me if I needed anything from the market. I didn’t think so, I’d already planned to prepare a nice soup using some of the things I already had in the larder. We stopped by the bakery, and once we were home, as the raindrops began to fall, I put together a soup that we often see on the country tables in the Auvergne. I had the pleasure of discovering the cuisine of the region last year as part of my culinary research.
In principal, this type of soup begins with cabbage. Along with whatever meats you have available, you make a stuffing with a panade of garlic, demi-glace, and day-old bread, add scraps like sautéed vegetables, eggs, plenty of herbs and enriching spices: a loaf of Sunday goodness representing the labors of the week wrapped in cabbage and poached au torchon in mixed poultry stock.
Just before serving this soup in the minutes while it poached today, I set the table and cleaned the kitchen. I was taking the kitchen waste-basket down, and ran into Monsieur Maugère coming up from the cave. He had a bottle of wine in his hand and greeted me with a cheery bon appetit. He proceeded up the elevator while I walked up the stairs. I suspect that there were several families enjoying Sunday dinner in our neighborhood today at the same time, a meal that in France typically takes place at noon time. Through the back window that opens to the courtyard, echoes of kitchen and cooking sounds filled the air.
Please don't feel bound by the kinds of meats or vegetables I used today. The spirit of this dish lies in knowing how to save bits and pieces throughout the week and to assemble them together with the key components of this kind of soup when you have the fixings.
serves 4 as an entrée, 2 as a meal.
Ingredients (all pictured above):
4 large leaves of fresh green leaf cabbage, the kind with the veins
1 cup mixed cooked poultry wing meat from stock (duck, guinea hen, and chicken today)
1 cup vegetable saute from a previous meal - (celery root, zucchini, white button mushroom and pepper today)
2 slices of leftover pain de noix or thick country bread
1/3 cup demi-glace
1/2 a bunch of chives
4 sprigs of flat leafed parsley
4 sprigs of thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon brined green peppercorns
1 rounded teaspoon duck fat
2 pink shallots
2 cloves of garlic
3/4 cup cubed pumkin type squash
1.5 liters of unsalted poultry stock
2 French bay leaves
Equipment: large stewing pot for parboiling the cabbage leaves, a large breakfast bowl that holds approximately 2 1/2 cups, a clean linen poaching cloth which has been thoroughly rinsed of all traces of perfumes and detergent, small sauté pan, a small heavy cast iron casserole type soup pot with a heavy lid, wire mesh strainer, soup terrine type bowl and ladle.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and immerse four large cabbage leaves in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove from the water, and set the water aside for possible future use. When the leaves are cool enough to handle, cut out the heavy stem, using a paring knife.
- Ensure that your linen poaching cloth is absolutely clean. Lay it over a breakfast bowl that holds about 2 1/2 cups, and press two or three of the cabbage leaves into the bowl over the linen, with the edges overlapping.
- Grind your day old bread in a food processor and transfer to a deep bowl where you will mix your stuffing. Cut the mixed poultry meats into a dice and add them to the stuffing bowl. Add any leftover sauteed vegetbles from the week (this week it was celery root, zuchinni, button mushrooms, and spicy peppers). Wash the herbs, remove the leaves from the thyme stems, and mince the parsley leaves and chives. Add to the stuffing bowl. Add the seasonings: salt, pepper, and nutmeg to the bowl. Mix thoroughly.
- Heat the teaspoon of duck fat in a small saute pan and add the minced garlic, onion, shallots, and pumpkin type squash. Lower the heat to medium and saute the vegetables, pushing them around in the pan, for 5 minutes or until they are soft but not brown over medium low heat.
- Add the sauteed onion / squash mix to the stuffing bowl. Mix thoroughly, allowing the onions to cool slightly in the mix, then add the brined green peppercorns, poultry demi-glace and the 2 eggs, and mix the stuffing thoroughly.
- Press the stuffing into bowl which has been lined with the poaching linen and the cabbage leaves. Fold the leaves over the stuffing, and fit the last cabbage leaf over the folded leaves.
- Lift 2 edges of the linen and tie them once over, as tight as you can pull it. Lift the moulded ball out of the bowl and twist or tie it closed. I usually just twist it but you may also get a good effect if you tie it tightly around the neck with string.
- Heat 1.5 liters of mixed poultry stock with the two bay leaves to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium. Place the linen ball into the hot soup, holding the edges out of the soup. Place the cover on the soup pot, holding the poaching ball in place. Smooth the edge of the poaching linen up on top of the lid of the soup pot to keep it out of the heat of the fire.
- If your cooking pot is too wide around to allow for the stuffed cabbage to adequately submerged in 1.5 quarts or liters of stock, do two things: 1) add as much as 2 cups of the cabbage parboiling liquid to raise the liquid level somewhat, and 2) if the liquid still does not submerge the stuffed cabbage, turn it over once during cooking at the 10 minute mark, and add 5 minutes to your cooking time.
- Poach the stuffed cabbage in the soup for 20-25 minutes, disturbing it as little as possible. The steam inside the covered casserole will also cook the cabbage, so don't lift the lid unless you need to.
- Remove the poached stuffed cabbage to a cutting board, and carefully unwrap it. Slice it into 4 pieces with a sharp knife and place the pieces carefully into a warmed serving bowl. Carefully strain the poaching liquid though a mesh strainer into the serving bowl around the stuffed cabbage.
Serve hot with fresh bread and a sturdy white table wine, followed by the cheese plate.
Enjoy your Sunday dinner!
Remember you can click on any image on the blog to see a larger version.