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Potage Crécy

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 21 August 2011 at 16:22

Potage Crécy

From Twelve Months of Monastery Soups, by Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette):

Quote In France, the carrots grown in the vicinity of Crécy have the reputation as best and the tastiest in the whole country - hence the name given to the soup. From France, the soup crossed the Channel into England, where it has become part of the national folklore. According to an old tradition dating back the the 14th century, loyal Britons should eat carrot soup or "potage de Crecy" on the anniversary (August 26, 1346) of the battle of Crecy, a legendary victory of the English over the French in the the Hundred Years' War.

Last October, I made potage Parmentier and enjoyed it very much; since then, I had been looking forward to trying another French vegetable-based soup. There are many choices, featuring onions, asparagus, mushrooms, beans, peas and many more, and it's difficult to choose from so many options - so I decided to make an occasion out of it and offer the choice to the beautiful Mrs. Tas. When we were shopping this past weekend, I asked her which one she would like to try, and this creamy carrot soup was her choice.

From Time/Life's Foods of the World - The Cooking of Provincial France (1968):

Quote Potage Crécy
Purée of Carrot Soup

To serve 4 to 6:

2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup finely-chopped onions
3 cups finely-chopped carrots
1 quart chicken stock, fresh or canned
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons plain, white raw rice
Salt
White pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon soft butter
8 to 12 carrot curls (optional)

In a heavy 3-to 4-quart saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Stir in the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until they are soft but not browned. Add the carrots, chicken stock, tomato paste and rice, and simmer gently, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Purée the soup through a food mill into a clean saucepan. Season it with salt and pepper, and stir in the cream.

Before serving, return the soup to low heat and bring it to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the tablespoon of soft butter. Ladle the soup into a tureen or into individual soup bowls and garnish with carrot curls if desired.

I was quite impressed with this soup! I know some people are wary of puréed soups because of the perceived "nothing" texture or quality about them, but I really, really like the way they carry the flavours on such a creamy, silky-smooth platform. This was no exception, and i can enthusiastically recommend this one!
 
From Time/Life's Foods of the World - The Cooking of Provincial France (1968):
 
Quote A good soup must be fresh. As was first said about all good food by Curnonsky, "prince of gastronomes," a good soup must taste of the things it is made of....
In simple French fare, a soup is kept simple: since it is meant to be eaten at the end of the day, it should lead to easy sleep unhindered by a too-active digesting of rich or unaccustomed ingredients. If there is no stock, the soup will be based, usually, on water, or on broth left from some dish like boiled beef, or occasionally on milk. The whole family will eat it, with the last of the daily bread, and then go to bed....A comparitively complex dish like a bouillabaisse is seldome served at night, being rich and in other ways eminently unsuited to peaceful slumber. [This and similar] main-dish soups [are] usually served in the middle of the day....
 
Many soups that evolved through the centuries in the French provinces are based more on vegetables than on meats or even meat stocks, and are...ancient, as basic as the need for cabin-bound men to go out with their livestock...and gather the [bounty] of the meadows.
 
It is impossible, of course, to try and change the modern American pattern of dining at home or in public at night, with snack-lunch or "business lunch" at noon. But a hearty soup in the winter after a long day, or a light one with fresh herbs and vegetables in the summer, bears out the saying that "soup's good enough, if there's enough soup."
 
This was an easy soup to make and provided a great deal of flavour from such simple and humble ingredients.
 
Here are the goods:
 
 
You can find this stuff anywhere, so give it a try. As it turned out, one onion was just the right amount, and two pounds of carrots provided the necessary three cups of chopped carrots with a couple of carrots to spare, if one wants to attempt carrot curls.
 
First, I peeled and chopped the carrots:
 
 
I tried to keep the chopping fairly consistent for even cooking and also fairly small in size so that there would be no under-done pieces:
 
 
Next, i chopped the onion, also finely:
 
 
After measuring out the remaining ingredients, I began to sauté the onions in butter until i just barely saw the beginnings of carmelization:
 
 
Then I added the carrots:
 
 
Chicken broth:
 
 
Two tablespoons of rice:
 
 
And two teaspoons of tomato paste:
 
 
After stirring everything together, I brought the soup to the beginnings of a boil:
 
 
and then simmered slowly until all carrot pieces were tender and fully-cooked:
 
 
This took a little longer than the recommended time of 30 minutes, but I wanted to be sure that all pieces were fully-cooked.
 
Then came the fun part! I brought out the trusty wand blender and puréed the soup for a minute or two to a complely liquid state, thickened of course by the carrots, onions and rice:
 
 
I then added the cream:
 
 
Followed by the salt and white pepper:
 
 
I used about a teaspoon-and-a-half for both spices, and this turned out well, but I think that a little less of both would have worked a tad better to keep things in balance; I would suggest one teaspoon each of the salt and white pepper.
 
After blending again to a beautiful, silky consistency:
 
 
I stirred in a pat of butter, set it on the stove to bring it back up to a nice, enveloping warmth and served:
 
 
Rather than using carrot curls, I chose to employ a few freshly-chopped celery leaves as a garnish, in order to add colour and that oh, so magic ambience that is created whenever carrots, onions and celery are brought together:
 
 
Tasting this creamy, delightful soup was a real treat, and made a perfect late-night bowl of savory goodness before turning in for the evening. The carrots came through very well, with the other ingredients providing a beautiful base, light as a cloud yet satisfying as a full entrée. I found it to be nearly everything I had hoped it to be!
 
My only regrets are that I didn't have my own fresh-grown carrots from the garden to use in preparation, and that circumstances required that i use canned chicken broth rather than home-made stock. I just know that these rustic and more-authentic touches would have catapulted this soup from "very good" to "simply outstanding!"
 
 
I can easily and heartily recommend this soup to anyone wanting to provide an elegant, flavour-filled touch to any evening meal. Give it a try!Tongue
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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2018 at 10:33
I thought this might be a good one to bring up, as I seem to be seeing carrots everywhere.

This is a really good soup - I am confident that anyone giving it a try will be impressed with it.

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2018 at 11:11
Nice Ron, looks delicious and a good soup for this time of year. If I can ever find my stick blender I will try this! 
Mike
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2018 at 11:17
Hi, Mike -

I think you would like this one...it's good, it's basic in nature and it is "elevated" just enough to make a very nice statement on what carrots can be. With all of the wonderful, fresh produce available in the Pacific Northwest, I am guessing you could really make this soup sing beautifully.

A stick blender isn't entirely necessary; any device such as a food mill or regular blender will get the job done. In a pinch, I am guessing even a potato masher will suffice.

If you try it, let us know what you think!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2018 at 11:22
Originally posted by TasunkaWitko TasunkaWitko wrote:


A stick blender isn't entirely necessary; any device such as a food mill or regular blender will get the job done. In a pinch, I am guessing even a potato masher will suffice.


yeah, I would probably throw it either in the vitamix blender or the food processor. Either one should get the job done without any fuss. Honestly I haven't been able to find my stick blender in, let's see, I moved into this house 7 years ago and it's been before that move I last saw it, and I don't really miss it. Would be nice for some things but I get by without it.

I do have some carrots in the fridge that need to get used, and an onion, maybe I'll pick up the rest of the stuff and make it this weekend (if I get a chance)
Mike
Life in PitRow - My often neglected, somewhat eccentric, occasionally outstanding blog
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