French Friday’s with Dorie
People who can take a small bit of this, combine it with a little scrap of that, and turn it out into a terribly chic and stylish something-or-another, all with seemingly little or no effort irritate me greatly. I hate them. And yes, by “hate” and “irritate” I mean their talent makes me insanely jealous. I’m sure we all know people like this, don’t we? Dorie Greenspan certainly does for here she has given her friend Christine Vasseur’s name to these simple soups (made of practically nothing) because she believes them to be exemplars of her supernatural ability to pull off this je ne sais quoi . While I’m not entirely in agreement that these soups are the culinary equivalent to this freakishly annoying skill I describe, I certainly understand what it is she is describing.
I have many, many friends who are Christines . Man I hate Christines .
One of my favorite (or least favorite, depending) Christines thinks nothing of wandering outside 20 minutes before her guests are to arrive for dinner so she can poach a vacant lot of its scrubby greenery, long barren tree branches and a handful of wildflowers or berries. She will then toss them together in such a manner that an absolutely stunning and dramatic flower arrangement for the table or entry way will emerge. One look at her table, which was dull just a few minutes earlier, and I hate her a bit more. I remember one time she snapped the heads of two dozen daisies “borrowed” from a neighbor and sprinkled them around the table for Sunday brunch. Everyone went nuts at her creativity.
“Isn’t Christine amazing? I never would have thought to do that!”
Then there is that other Christine friend of mine can spend not a penny more than $25 at a flea market (found by accident while going for her pre-dawn jog) and then, armed with a glue gun and a few heavily bargained for purchases, will transform our rented-for-the-week, generic vacation flat into a show house worthy of an Architectural Digest photo shoot. I hate her too.
One of the more madding of all the Christines I know is the one always will take a few random refrigerator scraps from the night before, chop ’em up with a fried thingamabob or a whats-it, top it all with a runny poached egg and present us with a 3-star brunch.
“Oh Christine! I’m so glad we decided not to out for brunch today!”
Knowing these frustratingly talented individuals and experiencing their savant-like creative skills makes is all the more surprising to me that Dorie thinks these simple, plain party soups exemplify the full-throttle Christine -ness of someone whose skills we are to ostensibly admire.
Can you even be a Christine if your party soup starts with a bouillon cube? Perhaps being able to use them is the defining characteristic of culinary Christines?
Ill spare us all too much editorial on bouillon cubes since I haven’t really used them before. They don’t impress me much and even though my grandmother always had a few of them around I never saw her actually use them in her endless varieties of Refrigerator Soup . I just thought that bouillon cubes were something you served old ladies who said they were on a diet.
Perhaps my lackluster embrace of Christine’s soup talents (which doesn’t mean her children’s muffler slash Dior scarf wasn’t just as incredible as Dorie says) just wasn’t for me has more to do with my lack of enthusiasm for soup as a party starter anyway. I’m sure tossing back a shot of cold gazpacho at a fancy museum benefit is one thing but it isn’t very me .
Christine’s Party Soups
Dorie includes three versions of Christine’s Party Soups in her recipe . This installment is once again more method than recipe and so for that reason it is at least worth a look. I made all of them as I had a friend ‘in need of soup’ of the sort that wouldn’t challenge a stomach too much. In that regard these were perfect but then sick beds are not chic dinner parties are they? So if everything has its place in the grand scheme of things then these soups certainly do as well, despite what I am saying about them here.
They also looked very beautiful. So there is that too.
Of the three it was the green ones, asparagus and broccoli, that I thought were deserving of a at least passing grade — but not much more than that if we were grading on the ‘dinner party scale’ their title infers should be used. And ultimately perhaps that is my issue with these soups. Had Dorie titled these, “3 Soups Just Perfect for Your Sick Friend” or “Turn Anything Into Soup Soup” I may have been mad for them.
(The red pepper soup was a resounding ‘meh’, however and I recommend that if you do follow the link to find it you either double the amount of red pepper or reduce the stock significantly until you puree and add back to the desired consistency.)
Adapted from Dorie's, er, Christine's version posted here . I'm sharing the broccoli version as I thought that was the best but I did have to punch it up with some oregano.
The soups can be served warm or cold and can be seasoned however you wish. If serving cold you can top with a whipped cream lightly seasoned with curry as Christine would do.
This is what you will need:
- 4 cups water
- 2 bullion cutes
- 1/4 pound broccoli, trimmed into florets; stems peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 pound zucchini, trimmed and sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
This is how you make it:
- Bring water and bullion cutes to a boil in a medium saucepan. Lower heat to medium and add broccoli and zucchini. Cook until veggies are cooked through and tender. They should easily pierce with a knife. About 15 minutes
- Add oregano and simmer 5 more minutes.
- Turn off heat and allow mixture to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer in batches to a blender to puree or use an immersion blender.
- If serving warm return the soup to the saucepan and keep warm until ready to serve.
These Christine’s Party Soup were an assignment for French Friday’s with Dorie, a cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s culinary tome “ Around My French Table” . We generally avoid including the recipes in our posts. However, wherever there has been a significant adaptation by me or where the recipe has already been publicly posted by Ms. Greenspan or her publishers or by hundreds of other bloggers, or it is, in fact, not much of a recipe at all, I will either include it here (adapted) or provide a direct link to it. Please feel free to contact me via the link provided on my page if you need any assistance finding a French Friday with Dorie Recipe.
You should buy the book though. It will change your life as it has mine.