Potage Bonne Femme

I am unclear exactly when I came across the writings of Elizabeth David and her Book of Mediterranean Food! Must have been around 40 years ago and I simply could not get enough of her recipes using ingredients such as aubergines, basil, figs, garlic, olive oil and saffron, which at the time of her writing were scarcely available in Britain but were beginning to appear (if you knew where to look!)

As an art student who was spending rather more of my allowance on booze, 'pop' concerts and generally enjoying myself, there wasn't much left for food! But, I was a soup fanatic even then and at least once a week I made Elizabeth's Potage Bonne Femme - one of the least expensive soups to make, but also one of the most satisfying ... and ... it usually lasted me 3 days! I didn't have a mouli or a liquidiser but I just used a potato masher - perhaps not as smooth as hers but it did the trick!

A while later, having saved and saved and saved my wages as a very junior graphic artist, I took a job as a seriously-underpaid waitress in a hotel in the Swiss Alps (my father was none-too-pleased but hey, I got to see the incredible sunrise over the mountain every morning as we were serving breakfast at some ungodly hour and I got to ski the same beautiful mountain every afternoon!)

The hotel residents dined on the most fabulous Swiss food (oh the aromas coming out of the kitchen!) but the fare was god-awful for the staff - so the Potage Bonne Femme was again my saviour, cooked on the Swiss equivalent to a Prima stove! Sadly, there were no smart phones to take an image of my soup at the time but the stock photo above is not too far away from the reality!    

Nuts Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Nuts and Seeds.jpeg

Now, this was a massive study (actually 3 studies) over 30 plus years involving over 5 million people! Nut consumption was assessed and was updated every 4 years.

THE RESULTS? Consumption of peanuts and tree nuts (2 or more times per week) and walnuts (1 or more times per week) was associated with a 13% to 19% lower risk of total cardiovascular disease and a 15% to 23% lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Pretty powerful stuff when it comes to getting into a regular nut habit! Commiseration to those who have a tree nut allergy... but it may be that there is no indication of an allergy to certain seeds so hopefully you can still benefit.

Nuts and seeds are simply crying out for a bit of roasting in the oven, keeping in a dark jars in the fridge (so they lose as little of their freshness and fat goodness as possible) and grabbed as a snack, to top salads or stews AND of course - soups, soups and more soups (hot and chilled)!

Glorious Super Soups
 image: Glorious Soups

I rather like this soup! I have to confess that I don't often buy 'cartoned soup' from the supermarket but there are occasions when it's no bad thing to have a soup or two in the freezer if I am slightly behind on the soup-making front! However, not any old soup will do when in a rush to get some goodness into my day...

In this case, there are peas, beans, onions, leeks and spinach which handle the need for a pretty good selection of splendid vegetables PLUS I like the fact there is a healthy addition of brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa to provide a deal of protein and it's low in saturated fat and not-too-shabby when it comes to the salt content. 

Have you tried it? What's your verdict?

Naturally, it doesn't come anywhere close to my Spinach & Watercress Soup but hey ho - needs must!

Some Like It Chilled!
squash and sage soup.jpeg

Some like their soups hot and shy away from the 'chilled variety'. But when the weather is warm and sunny chilled soups come into their own! Many Mediterranean countries have their own delicious recipes - think Ajoblanco, Gazpacho, Solmorejo, Tarator, Vichyssoise, Avgolemono etc.

There is something rather pleasing about a crisp, clean and refreshing soup starter when the temperature soars and/or they can be served in little shot glasses pre-drinks. Have a go with some of my own soups!

Click here to download the recipes

Starring Your Very Own Soup Recipe!
 image: New Covent Gardens Soup Co.

image: New Covent Gardens Soup Co.

I think this is a great idea! Most soup fans have a favourite 'go to' and we believe our own recipe is 'the best of the best' and do you know what? New Covent Garden Soups ain't daft! We give them our favourite recipe, they take the recipe and tailor it to the 'carton soup' market, they give us the kudos and maybe-even a small payment (probably not!) and everyone's happy - or are they?

I simply can't imagine that those recipes that I have slaved over and over and over until they totally hit the spot will taste the same - BUT no-one would ever accuse me of being a 'soup snob' SO I sort of like the idea that New Covent Garden are going out of their way to get us involved even if they will most likely be the ones to profit!

Have you 'gifted' a recipe? What was it and how did the whole process go?