Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cream of Lentil and Chestnut Soup with Foie Gras Custards (Page 105)

RECIPE #1288

  • Date: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 -- 6pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Dining Companions: Helen, Charles, Clara, and Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B

I would have made this recipe long ago, as I love soup and I particularly love lentil soup. But I had real difficulty finding the foie gras the recipe called for. Duck foie gras is easy to find. That's not to say that I know where to buy it in the Lansing area, but I do know dozens of places from which I can order it online. This recipe, however, called specifically for goose foie gras. It used to be that goose foie gras was also easy enough to order online, but right now that it just not the case. The Book has suggestions in it for where to buy hard-to-find ingredients, and even the purveyor they suggested didn't have it. In the end I spent quite a long time scouring the internet for goose foie gras. Finally (at last!) I found one place that sold it. I put it my order, delighted that I would finally be able to make this recipe. The delight didn't last long. I soon got an email saying that in fact the goose foie gras wasn't actually available. With the end of the project looming, I had to make a choice. I did the only thing I could think to do: I used duck foie gras instead. In this recipe the foie gras is pureed with eggs and cream and served in a soup. Would one really be able to tell the difference between goose and duck foie gras in this preparation? I don't know. But I bought some duck foie gras and went ahead with the recipe. Now, weeks later, I am apparently still feeling bad about this substitution. Just last night I had a a dream that one of my friends was secretly doing the same project as me. He was also almost done, and he had found the goose foie gras!

To make this recipe I started by making some croutons. I deep-fried small cubes of white bread in oil. I then cooked French green lentils with cooked chestnuts, thyme, parsley, chives, bay leaves and salt in water. Meanwhile, I pureed the foie gras with eggs, egg yolks, salt, and cream. I divided the foie gras custard mixture into ramekins and baked the custards until set. I then removed the bouquet garni of herbs and pureed the soup, then strained and seasoned it. I whipped cream, then whisked it into the soup. I poured the soup over the foie gras custards and sprinkled with the croutons and some toasted almond slices.

I had mixed feelings about this soup. On the one hand, it had great flavors. The combination of lentils and chestnuts was very interesting, and both flavors complemented the foie gras custards well. It was texturally interesting to have a custard on the bottom of the bowl, soup on top of it, and crunchy croutons and almonds on top of that. But for me, it was just too rich! Foie gras is already quite rich, and baking it with eggs and cream only enhanced its richness. The soup itself wouldn't have been terribly rich without the cream, but whisking in a bunch of whipped cream made it pretty intense. I enjoyed eating a few bites of the soup, but even the small serving size was too much for me.

The recipe is here.

Only 5 recipes left to go!

This is the last recipe from the Soups section of The Book! I love soup (indeed there are always at least 3 or 4 kinds of homemade soup in our freezer!) so it was a pleasure to cook through this section. In no particular order, my favorite five recipes from this sections were the following:
  • Chinese Egg Drop Soup with Noodles -- This was easily the best egg drop soup I have ever had. I made it with homemade chicken stock and that was definitely the way to go! I made this when I lived in Indiana, for a dinner with my friends Mike, Teresa, Tricia, and Cornelia, and everyone seemed to enjoy it!
  • Congee -- This Chinese chicken and rice porridge was AMAZING. This recipe took a long time to make, but it was so very, very tasty! If I knew of a restaurant where I could order this item, I would be going there at least a couple times a week. Yum!!!
  • Mushroom Barley Soup -- I made this one way back in the early days of the project. This was a wonderful, hearty soup, perfect for a cold winter day!
  • Yellow Split Pea Soup -- I have avoided split pea soup most of my life, after being forced to eat it as a kid at summer camp. But this recipe made me see the truth: split pea soup can be delicious! This simple recipe produced a very lovely soup.
  • Mango-Spacho -- This was definitely the best of the cold soups in The Book. I wouldn't necessarily have expected mango, chiles, cucumber, corn, scallion, garlic, red pepper, basil, cilantro, vinegar, orange juice, lemon juice, and lime juice to come together to form something delicious, but they did! It was a refreshing and surprising summer soup!
And just like that, another section is complete. That makes 17 completed sections and 4 left to finish! I can't believe how close I am to the end!

The semester started this week! We were in Boston all last week for a conference. It was great fun to be back in the city where my special gentleman and I met. We saw lots of math friends, and lots of non-math friends as well. I ate good food, went to good math talks, and hung out with good friends! It was a great trip! We flew back the day before classes started and life has been pretty hectic since then. So far the semester is going well, although I have been sick since before New Year's which has made the first few days back a little rough. I finally gave up today and went to the doctor. It's bronchitis. They gave me some antibiotics as well as cough syrup with codeine, and I am already feeling a little better! Maybe I shouldn't have waited two weeks to get myself checked out...

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