Heartwarming Parmesan Soup from A Kitchen in France

December 13, 2014

Mimi Thorisson's new book, A Kitchen in France, chronicles the dishes she prepared for her family in their farmhouse.  Prior to living in Médoc, Thorisson enjoyed the comforts of Paris where bakeries and chocolate shops are on every street corner.  Her new country lifestyle has its oven pleasures including local wine and cheese and fresh produce straight from the farmer.  Thorisson's food embodies the simplicity and richness of the French countryside with dishes like roast chicken with creme fraiche and herbs, artichoke tartlets, parmesan soup and garden cake, just to name a few. You'll want to savor these home cooked meals as much as the scenery.  

L’ami Jean’s Parmesan Soup
Serves 8 to 10

There are so many excellent restaurants in Paris that it’s hard, and perhaps even pointless, to pick favorites. If I had to, though, Stéphane Jégo’s L’Ami Jean would get my vote any day. I’ve been to the restaurant countless times and have never been disappointed. His cooking strikes the most elusive balance between traditional and inventive and strangely feels like home cooking while at the same time it feels special. One of the classics at his restaurant is this Parmesan soup, for which he generously lent me the recipe. It’s been such a crowd-pleaser at my table for years that I just had to include it in this book. Merci, Stéphane!  

4 tablespoons/60 g unsalted butter
2 onions, coarsely chopped
7 ounces/200 g Parmesan cheese, sliced
4 cups/1 liter chicken stock
2 quarts/2 liters heavy cream
4 cups/1 liter whole milk
2 ounces/50 g bacon, finely chopped
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
2 tablespoons croûtons (recipe follows)
1 shallot, finely chopped
A handful of finely chopped fresh chives

Melt the butter in a large pot over low heat. Cook the onions until soft, 10 minutes. Add three-quarters of the Parmesan, the chicken stock, cream, and milk, bring to a simmer, and simmer until the ingredients are melted and the soup has thickened slightly, 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan, cook the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel.

Add the remaining Parmesan to the soup and simmer for 10 minutes more.

Purée the soup in a blender in batches, then strain through a sieve. Season with salt and pepper.

Scatter the croutons, shallots, chives, and bacon into soup bowls, ladle the soup on top, and serve immediately.

For the croûtons: 

1/2 stale baguette
1 large garlic clove, halved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Slice the baguette ½ inch (1 cm) thick. Rub each piece of bread with the garlic, then cut into ½-inch/1-cm pieces. Put on a small baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss well, so each piece is coated. Toast in the oven until golden and crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Let cool.

Reprinted from A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse. Copyright © 2014 by Mimi Thorisson. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Oddur Thorisson. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House LLC.

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