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!