Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pain de Sucre - Sugarloaf Chicory



This time of year, pain de sucre is found in bins amid the winter varietal greens, spinach, the many strains of radicchio chicory, nestled between the squash and pumpkins. Tender looking elongated tightly packed loaves, in English called Sugarloaf Chicory, tumble gladly into my market basket. While it's still dark in the early evenings, I walk down to the Wednesday night market at Place Carnot where the local farmers come once a week and keep an eye out for it.

I like to cook my pain de sucre by slicing it into chunks, rinsing the leaves, and lightly poaching them in a billowy herbal broth that's been simmered with a big winter bouquet and a ham bone. Chicory goes with pork. I float the poached leaves with the meat and herbs, sometimes adding wedges of pumpkin or topping the soup with shavings of good hard cheeses. A spritz of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and a grind of rose peppercorns or sichuan pepper acts like a little taste ladle that captures the bitter goodness and lifts it up for a second boost of winter satisfaction. Wrap yourself in a sweater, sip this soup in a chair by the window, slurp the bitter greens, and settle in for an afternoon soaking up some prose.

It somehow seems like spring is around the corner this week.

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13 Comments:

Blogger David said...

Yikes! When I saw this point, I was excited, since I thought you found a use (and a recipe) for the mound of solid sugar I was gifted a while back.

Still, those greens look gorgeous.

2:15 PM, January 22, 2009  
Blogger Lori in PA said...

Lucy, a question: Do you have any idea why I can go a couple of weeks without seeing a new post on your blog, but then suddenly there will be three or four or five? Is it possibly because you "put up" several on one day that were actually composed over several days?

6:22 PM, January 22, 2009  
Blogger Eileen said...

Looks like such a satisfying soup. And seeing those bulbs sprouting gives me hope that maybe even here in Minnesota, spring is closer.

7:15 PM, January 22, 2009  
Blogger L Vanel said...

David, thank you for your kind comment. Sorry I couldn't help you with your sugar problem! Your dressing looks delicious and I will definitely try it with this season's bitter greens.

Hello Lori, you got it! I put 'em up when they're ready! Keep stopping by!

Eileen, glad you like the soup. I have been happy with the clear soups these past few weeks.

7:18 PM, January 22, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog inspires genius. You make the most amazing dishes out of seemingly simple ingredients.

3:57 AM, January 23, 2009  
Blogger Martha said...

The soup looks so good . . . and the bulbs in the baskets are so French.

Spring is truly around the corner.

12:57 PM, January 23, 2009  
Anonymous Abra Bennett said...

I have never ever seen that here, I'll have to keep an eye out for it, greens-fiend that I am.

6:26 PM, January 23, 2009  
OpenID squirrelbread said...

I cannot say enough how marvelous your photography is... the markets, the scenery, the food! That cheese plate a while back had me longing for Europe and its much-less-restricted cheese sales laws, and I've had the herb/phyllo cracker recipe bookmarked for ages. It's a treat to stop by and read your posts!

Cheers,

*Heather*
http://squirrelbread.wordpress.com/

3:04 AM, January 25, 2009  
Blogger Andrea said...

This is a beautiful recipe, and the way you write about it is even more lovely. I LOVE your photographs!

3:23 PM, January 25, 2009  
Blogger Mimi from French Kitchen said...

I know the feeling you get when spring seems near. It is a false sense of exuberance, and I wish i knew what brings it on. Perhaps a simple shift in the angle of the sun at a certain time of day?

Thank you for the charming New Year's wishes, Lucy!

4:25 AM, January 27, 2009  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Thank you for the comments my friends!

5:41 AM, January 27, 2009  
Blogger katiez said...

That looks perfect for this cold, gray day. I see this in the markets but didn't really know what to do with it. And all my cook books are still in boxes!

5:00 PM, February 01, 2009  
Anonymous abby said...

it's a beautiful looking and sounding soup.

8:57 AM, May 09, 2009  

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