August 16, 2013

Julia Child's Cold Watercress Soup

A love letter to Madame Julia Child:

Yesterday would have been your 101st birthday.

Everyone seems to have a Julia story. Mine is about a trip to Hollywood in 2009 to see Julie & Julia, which culminated in meeting Julie Powell, who had sparked my interest in your story two years earlier when I read her book.

Whenever I'm in a horrible funk, from which even the gooiest of mac-n-cheeses won't rescue me, I turn to you. I watch old episodes of The French Chef. I browse your cookbook. Sometimes, I even spend an evening making one of your recipes. In fact, my first post on this blog was about one of your dishes: Potage Parmentier (Leek & Potato Soup).

In the last six years, whenever I felt bored or uninspired or was drowning in anxiety or self-pity, I often cooked a French dish and thought of you.

You reinvented yourself at age 37 when you enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu. This alone inspires me. Your passion for living, your excitement about--well--everything, reminds me to focus on the good parts of my life.

I wish I had known you. But I am grateful to be able to learn about you through your cookbooks, your memoir, and your television shows.

Thank you, Julia, for the legacy you left us. Bon Appetit!

Potage au Cresson (Water-cress Soup)
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Serves 6-8 people

3 cups peeled, sliced potatoes
3 cups sliced white of leek
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
1 packed cup of fresh watercress leaves & tender stems
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper, to taste
  • In a 3-4 quart stock pot, simmer the potatoes & leeks in the chicken broth, partially covered, for 40-50 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  • When there is 5 minutes of cooking time left, add the watercress to the simmering soup. 
  • Puree the soup in batches in a blender. Remove to a tureen, bowl, or another stockpot. 
  • Stir in the cream and season with salt & pepper to taste.
  • Chill in the refrigerator.
  • Serve the soup garnished with minced chives, if desired.

More French recipes:
Almost-Fudge Gateau

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