French Soup & Smorgasblog

In mah dreams mah dog-pen garden becomes a French Potager.

(I said it were a dream)

When I ain't bloggin' wif all y'all, I meander. One place I check once a month or so is this American ex-pat whose politics is sickly. But, hey--she gardens in France and cooks too. What can I say--some people can cook, so ya' love 'em fer that an' ignore the rest.

Below is her carrot hazelnut soup. Gotta try this.

Be sure to click the other links below the soup recipe!

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People who know me would tell you that it's hard to tell which I like more: gardening or cooking. I'd say it depends on which I'm doing at the moment. Anyway, French cooking and French gardening go hand in hand. For me, cooking is an on-going adventure. Join me here on my culinary explorations, where I share with you both my old favorites as well as new inspirations. It's my fondest wish that these recipes serve as a springboard for your own new creations.

Carrot-hazelnut soup with North African spices (Soupe de carottes aux noisettes et épices du Maghreb)


3/4 c. shelled hazelnuts
1 T. butter
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1.5 lbs. fresh garden carrots (mature are fine) sliced+ 2 medium carrots cut in 1/4" dice
6-8 cups homemade chicken, rabbit or veal stock
3/4-1 tsp. ras el hanout*
1/8-1/4 tsp. ground saffron or large pinch of saffron stamens
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 T. crème fraîche or heavy cream (not sour cream)
Optional garnishes: 3 T. snipped chervil and 2 T. hazelnut oil

Preheat the oven to 350, Toast the hazelnuts for 10-15 minutes until they smell and taste fragrant. Rub them in a kitchen towel to remove as much of their skins as possible. Grind 1/2 cup of them in a food processor as finely as possible. Reserve the rest.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a clay pot if possible. Cook the shallots with a big pinch of salt until they ae soft. Add the carrots and the smaller amount of the spices (you can add more later to taste) and cook, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground hazelnuts and enough broth (heat first, if using clay pot) to cover the carrots by about half an inch. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are perfectly tender but not beyond.

Whir the soup in a food processor until smooth. Be careful not to overfill the processor bowl, especially with hot soup. Work in batches if necessary. Put the soup through a fine mesh strainer, pressing down hard and patiently on the solids. If you have a chinois (a cone-shaped very fine-meshed strainer with a matching cone-shaped pestle) now is the time to use it. Press until only a thick dry paste remains.

Return the strained soup to the cleaned pot and reheat it gently. Stir in the cream. The soup should taste ambrosial; if it is missing something, tinker with the spices, salt and white pepper until it is just right.

Roughly chop the reserved hazelnuts. Cook the diced carrots in boiling salted water for 1 minute, drain and refresh under cold water.

Divide the carrot dice, the chopped hazels, and the chervil if using among 4 heated bowls and bring them to the table. Let your guests admire the tantalizing mosaic of these ingredients while you return to the kitchen to retrieve the soup pot. With a flourish, ladle the hot soup into the bowls. Add a fillip of hazelnut oil if you like and voilà!

Note: This soup tranfers that most humble of vegetables, the carrot, into something ethereal and exotic. Vegans can omit the cream and use a robust vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

*Ras el hanout is a mixture of 20 or more spices available in Middle Eastern or Moroccan groceries. It can be highly variable in content, so sniff before using. It should smell more of sweet spices like nutmeg than sharp ones like cumin to be optimal for this soup.

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Other Garden Blogs:
Skippy's Garden (pumpkins and butternut squash!)

Boldo's Thoughts on Food

What's happening on this three acre farm?

Another French offering--self sown hippie gardening blog

Spanish Magic Beans


Big Shamu said...

Thanks so much for sharing your gifts with us. You know I appreciate your giving them.

Doom said...

You know you have an enemy when they cannot or will not break bread with you. Those who refuse are, probably, not worth the time. I suppose that must leak into recipes, cooking, and such, especially for us foodies! (though this is part of my great dislike for those of the religion of peace (tm), they may eat bread with you, according to their religion, merely to put you at ease while planning all sorts of rotten things)

I am not sure I have the tools or temperament (health) at this moment to try my hand at those, but darn it, I want to do so. I'll have to print those and try them when I move. Nothing says love (in the general sense) like a belly full of home cooking, even for one's self, I think?

darkfoam said...


fishy said...

Wow! beautiful images and the soup recipe looks great. I think this is a great fall/ game day menu item. Is those Gator's coming to SC this year? Come on up here and teach me how to make this stuff!

R.Powers said...

J'aime la langue, mais pas la cuisson.

French Intensive Gardening is pretty amazing in what it can produce per acre... or fraction of an acre.

To be fair, I haven't experimented with that many French recipes, but the abundance of creamy sauces goes against my grain. That is probably partial ignorance on my part ... like judging American food by hamburgers and bbq.

Aunty Belle said...


Doan this soup sound divine? In mah next life I is gonna have time to jes' meander through a few countries an' see how them folks live in the backwaters--where they ain't got no English on the menu.


The woman of the first blog--the carrot soup woman--she is an American ex-pat who hates America. So when ya read her links that ain't on recipes yore blood pressure will boil--but her garden is good and the food is too.
( an I reckon she is blind--what? she ain't seen them miles of tent cities along the main route to Orly (airport) from Paris. Jes' this April I seen literally two miles of tent cities, wif' half nekkid chillens roamin' in the garbage along the embankments.

Funny (not really ) story:

I'se born in Mississipi. But Daddy took us nawth to Wisconsin when he had a opportunity thar'--an folks thar' wondered iffin' we kids from Missisippi had outhouses. (ain't makin' this up). Then a fellow student went south fer Christmas an' came back to show some photos his parents took in the South--photos of ole fallin' down barns and shanty houses an'such-like. Then that kid finished his show an' tell by sayin' how that was what the South was--poor people livin' in rotted houses.


Then Miss Grits-Mouth stood up in her shakin' wif rage ten-year ole voice said, "Well, I reckon that them pictures does show some parts of the South--I ain't never seen people livin' in them places, but reckon it is out thar somewhar'--but what I has seen is now that we has moved heah to Madison Wisconsin whar' y'all is from, I'se seen mah first ever slum
an' rows and rows of what Mama tole me is "tenements." Y'all know somethin'?

In mah whole life in Mississippi I ain't never seen a rat in a house--but since comin' heah, I been to call on two of y'all from this very class, an' I seen rats in yore houses cause y'all live in them tenements cause Mama say yore daddies is givin' all they money to the Reds. Why is it okay fer ya to live wif' rats in slums up heah but when ya take a ride down South suddenly poor is shameful?

See, Doom? I was bit by the bug early in life--an' ain't shut up since.

Aunty Belle said...


Let's us get together on a cold November day an' make this soup!! I'll stir, you paint, we'll both yak an' yak!


Heh--doan know iffin' the Chomp is headed fer the Gamecocks--but I will teach ya the soup!


Heh--well, now, mebbe thas' on account of some French lass whispering French sweet nuthin's in yore ear. But doan give up on the food--fer one thang, real cows that make real butter an' cream have Omega 3,6,9 in their cream. It's the "modern" vache
thas' the problem.

chickory said...

man oh man i think nut and carrot together sounds really good. even better if an accomplished cook MAKES it for me. thats a process heavy routine -probably about as labor intensive as \oh, say, dessert pizzas?? love the zukes with their blossoms in tact.

show us some photos of your garden. whats happening in fall...or is there a fall where you are?