Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Soup And A Tartine

The other night I wanted to cook a light French supper that my Franco-father would be proud of, in this case a simple though elegant soup and tartine. A soup au courgettes or zucchini soup with a tartine au chevre et prosciutto or open-faced goat cheese and prosciutto sandwich to be exact. Tartine is the French equivalent of bruschetta and connotes the same general principal of loading ingredients onto toasted bread. Either way you swing it linguistically toast with cheese and luxurious toppings like cured meats, grilled vegetables, or raw produce is tasty stuff. Tartines are commonly eaten at breakfast or goûter (afternoon snack) in France where crusty baguettes are lathered with butter, melted chocolate, or nutella. Cheese tartines are more of a lunch thing oft paired with rillettes, pork products, or egg. I have increasingly used tartines to open dinner parties as either a palate warmer or first course, an easy way to both sate and wow guests. For this particular incarnation I toasted country bread slices and topped them with goat cheese, prosciutto, a drizzle of honey, and a generous crack of black pepper. It was creamy, sweet, salty, and crunchy all at once which was exactly what I was hoping for.

As good as sweet or savory tartines can be, they are rarely filling enough in and of themselves, needing a partner in crime to complete a meal. I have been on a big sustainability kick in the kitchen for the past few months and a have a freezer full of stock to show for it. There is a bag in my fridge devoted to food scraps and roughly once a week, give or take if I hosted a dinner party or two, everything is sacrificed to the stockpot. I used a couple of jars of said stock to make a big bowl of zucchini soup and round out my Gallic meal. The soup could not have been simpler and had very few ingredients. I sautéed some diced onions and garlic before adding the zucchini, a fennel bulb, and a potato for thickness then added the stock. It simmered away for fifteen minutes before I ran the whole thing through a food processor. That’s it and boy was it good. It sounds like a cliché at this point but all it takes to make a delicious meal at home is a little time, patience, and some quality ingredients. If you cook them minimally with care the ingredients you use will usually speak for themselves and make you look good in the process. The homemade vegetable stock made the dish, bringing an earthy richness and deep flavor to the otherwise minimal, and lets face it, boring soup. All and all it was an excellent night at home with a savory tartine and a bowl of zucchini soup to wash it down with, a winning French combo I highly recommend. As always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

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