Potato Soup - Soupe Bonne Femme
How to Make "Bonne Femme" Soup
A favourite soup recipe dating from the Victorian and Edwardian periods, this is another one of those old fashioned recipes well worth remaking. Bonne Femme (literally "good woman") soup has some humble origins but over time had been embellished with richer ingredients such as egg yolk and cream. This recipe makes an excellent soup to serve 4.
1 Quart (approx 945 mls) of white stock. (White stock is usually veal or chicken with the meat added raw to the stock to prevent it taking a brown hue. Any pre-made light stock would be fine)
1 white heart of lettuce. (This is any lettuce such as "iceberg" after the outer green leaves have been removed for salads, the pale heart/centre often remains as leftovers. This is a clue to the humble origins of this recipe).
1 thick slice of cucumber, peeled and the seeds removed. (It is advised to cut the length equal to the width, so if you have a 2 inch / 5cm diameter, you would make a 2 inch slice. Older recipes lack precise weights).
Freshly chopped Tarragon & Chervil to taste. (About 1 tsp of each is suitable for a delicate flavor)
1 oz / 28g of sweet butter, or dripping. ("Sweet" butter is usually uncultured and unsalted fresh butter, but most ordinary butters should be fine).
2 egg yolks
1/4 pint (approx 120mls) of thin cream or milk.
Salt and white pepper to taste.
Melt the butter or dripping in the soup pot and sauté the vegetables gently for 5-6 minutes until softened.
Add the stock, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 10-15 minutes and allow to cool slightly (to approx 60C / 140F, but it is approximate).
Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and cream / milk until smooth.Pour through a fine sieve if desired, but if the mix is completely blended it is unnecessary.
Add the cream mix to the cooled soup and reheat gently, stirring well until just thickened.Do NOT boil - it will curdle. Cooling the soup in advance prevents the egg mix from cooking too fast.)
Stir in the chopped herbs and serve immediately.
- Old recipes & their methods tend to be written on the assumption you wouldn't handle a cookbook unless you knew exactly what you were doing. As this doesn't always apply, especially in modern times, it is best to be more careful with seasonings and taste often to ensure the seasoning is balanced.
- In modern cooking, salt and pepper is often added last as cooking pepper for a long time may make it bitter. The catch with this soup, as with many of the older recipes, is adding salt and pepper last makes these flavours too strong and sharp which is contrary the refinement and elegance of these soups.
- Soup portions in earlier times tended to be small, as they were sometimes used as a starter or distraction to more bigger & elaborate courses. The yield averages 300-350mls per person.
Video: How To Make Poulet Bonne Femme
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