Thursday, January 07, 2010

New Year's Resolutions...err...I Mean Soups

If you feel a need for recalibrating to more normal intake levels after celebrating with sugar, spirits and, here in France, foie gras, raise your hand.

Resolutions aside (I don't tend to make them...they don't stick when I do), I could use a bit of head and body clearing to step into this brand new year. I’m more interested in keeping the old machine running in good form, but French women are reputed for being concerned with la ligne (the figure).

The myth is that cigarettes and eating like a bird are the keys. But I'll tell you, I've watched them. They enjoy a glass of wine along with a full meal just as much as anyone else who lives in the land of food nirvana. (Not to mention, 450 different kinds of cheese!) Mind you, we are not talking Outback Steakhouse-sized portions here and I’ve yet to see an all-you-can-eat place in these parts. Portions tend to be the size recommended on nutrition pamphlets where pictures compare the size of a standard 4 ounce serving of meat to the palm of a hand. And there are plenty of vegetables in the mix. Cooking is done with fresh ingredients that are shopped for daily - or nearly so.

After a “No restrictions” holiday season, filled with champagne and all sorts of delicacies, it's time to recalibrate. The system needs a chance to cleanse and regroup. Otherwise one is subject to a crise de foie (liver crisis - or stomach disturbance). The key to avoiding such discomfort seems to be in minding the moderation levels of what’s fueling the body. An occasional clearing regimen can help put things back on track.

Years ago, when I was doing hours and hours of yoga each week, an occasional two-day fast was a natural way to cleanse the body of toxins and such. Of course, I must admit: the first time I did a fast I did not have spiritual dreams, filled with symbols of wisdom and enlightenment, as I had hoped. No. My dreams were filled with visions of potato chips. Seriously. I wasn't that much of a chip hound but during and after that fast, all I could think about was the fascinating combination of grease and salt in a form that crunched. Go figure. It was early in my journey of enlightenment.

If you're feeling the need for a bit of cleansing and recalibrating - for the sake of health or your ligne - here are a couple of soups to nourish you along.

The first, a Magic Leek Soup eaten over two days from the book French Women Don't Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano. She is the president and CEO of Clicquot, Inc., so you can safely guess that her lifestyle is by no means austere. She may know a thing or two about needing to recalibrate. This may be an acquired taste for some. I happen to love leeks so this soup works for me.

The second soup here for your sipping pleasure is La Soupe "Brûle Graisse". The recipe was given to me as I left the Christmas holiday at the farmhouse in Grignan. (This was not a hint - I asked for a copy of it.) This soup was developed by the Department of Cardiology at L'Hôpital du Mémorial du Sacre Coeur. The regime that accompanies the recipe has been used for cardiac patients to burn calories and "purify the organism." Simply delicious. I make the blended version (and note, I also give the onions and peppers a bit of a roast - with some added garlic - for a richer taste). Everything melts down to a thick and creamy bowlful of tangy-sweet fresh veggie goodness. A great way to start the new year.

If you raised your hand in the first part of this post, give one of these soups a try. (Needless to say, avoiding the "hair of the dog" and all of that helps.)

I'll be giving it a go right along with you.

And here's hoping I'm past the "Potato Chip Dreams" stage of my journey.

Bon appétit,

Magic Leek Soup
(adapted from French Women Don't Get Fat)

2 pounds leeks, trimmed of root and the dark green part
water (or chicken stock - at least that's what I use)

Trim the leeks of their root end and the dark green tops, leaving only a portion of light green. Clean well to rinse out the sand. Chop into 1-inch pieces and toss in a soup pot. Add water (or chicken stock) to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the vegetables are soft.

Eat as a soup or strain the leek pieces from their water and reserve. Drink the reserved juice throughout over two days and eat the cooked leeks whenever you feel hungry. (And drink plenty of water throughout the two days.)

La Soupe "Brûle Graisse"

6 large oignons
2 red or green peppers
1 branch of celery
5 peeled tomatoes (or one large can of whole tomatoes)
1 head of cabbage
1 chicken bouillon cube
sea salt and pepper to taste, if you wish

Cut the vegetables in small pieces and put them in a large soup pot. (Hint: if you want to enhance the naturally sweet characteristics of this soup, try gently oven-roasting the onions, peppers and a few cloves garlic before you add the rest of the vegetables when it's back on the stovetop.) Bring to a boil and let them cook in a lively manner for 10 or so minutes, then lower the heat and let the vegetables continue to cook gently until soft.

You can eat the soup in its chunky state, or run a hand blender stick in the pot (or run it through the food processor) for a smoother consistency.


Sprocketboy said...

Leek soup is better than potato chips.

la fourchette said...

Yes, yes it is.

I'm pleased to be able to say that there were no chip hallucinations this time!


Sharon said...

Dear Leslie,

I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your site, the winter views of Aix, the beautiful food and occassional chances to see Bodhi, the adorable one!

Don (my husband) and I walked Ginger around the neighborhood for about a month in the spring/early summer of 2008 for Nathalie and Wayne. You kindly served us little shrimp and garlic on your upper terrace one evening in June. It was lovely and a fond memory for us.

Thank you for the memory and your site. Hope all is well with you and Bodhi. Warm regards, Sharon

la fourchette said...


Bonjour! I remember the evening on the under the evening sky. Any new paintings from that inspirational view? (The winter terraces looks a bit neglected these days. Still some time - and weather - to go before they come back to life.)

Thanks for stopping in to say hello.

(Bodhi is great - although we are still working on his comportment when guests are here. A bit of a moratorium has been called until he can stop acting like a three-year old...even though he's...errr...three years old!)


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