Sep 07 2010

French Potato Soup and Quiche

Published by at 7:07 am under French,Soup,Vegetarian

Mon Cheri, France

With a baguette tucked under one arm, I stroll the cobblestone streets of Montmartre, my legs dressed in my favorite pair of brown leather riding boots, my neck loosely wrapped with a cashmere scarf. Inhaling the autumn air at the highest point in Paris, the point where all the man made beauty of the city rests beneath my feet, the point where artists thrive, not starve, and lovers embrace not quarrel, I look up at the Sacré Cœur, its white, pristine, and majestic domes stretching proudly into the tangerine, sun-sunken sky. I indulge in the moment. Except, this moment is not a memory, but a recurring adolescent daydream.

Since I was 12 years old, I fantasized about France, the mystique of its gothic architecture, the sophistication of its fashion forward women, and the flavors of its intricate cuisine. Separated by an ocean, I tried to minimize the distance by taking French classes at school, eating croissants with Orangina at coffee shops, and watching French films starring Gerard Depardieu. I even ate mouthfuls of escargots and pretended to like it.

Hungry and nostalgic, today I cook to feel nineteen again, the age I first visited France. It was summer, not autumn, and I was wearing sneakers, not riding boots. Artists were sketching tourist caricatures by the hour, not masterpieces, and lovers, well, there exactly weren’t any to be seen among the sea of families, tour groups, and street vendors selling French souvenirs made in China.

But after a six hour train ride on the SNCF, the landscape of the French countryside greeted me with its green rolling hills, lavendar-filled gardens, and twisting narrow roads. Unlike Paris, Provence was simple, modest, and uncomplicated. In the middle of the biggest gothic palace in all of Europe, Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), I watched my first street theater performance. On the Rhone River, I paddled my first kayak for nearly thirteen consecutive hours. Inside my cousin’s country shack, I ate my first homemade quiche. Despite the fact that I found the lard-laden quiche inedible and that I nearly drowned when my kayak tipped over, I savor those experiences as moments of both triumph and loss, triumph in learning a new sport and tasting a new dish, but also loss of endurance and appetite.
In the last decade, I have come to love many of Earth’s cities; however, France will always be my first love. So this meal is a tribute to both the France in my adolescent fantasies and the France I truly grew to know, the beauty (both man-made and natural), herd of tourists, nearly starving artists, lard, near-death experience, and all. There’s nothing better than feasting on a bowl of creamy potato soup on a chilly fall night, followed by a delectably sweet and herbacious slice of quiche to transport me to mon cheri, France.

French Potato Soup Recipe

1 lb red potatoes
3-4 ribs of celery
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 teaspoon herb de Provence
2 cups shredded gruyere
Salt and pepper to taste

Roasted Potatoes and Grape Tomatoes Quiche with Goat Cheese and Tarragon

Quiche Dough
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups flour
1 stick butter
3 tablespoons water

Refrigerate for 20 min. Roll out to 12 inches and place in 9 inch tart pan bake with 4 ramikins on parchment paper for 20 min @ 350 degrees. Then remove paper AND ramekins and bake for 10 more minutes.

Quiche Filling
10 red potatoes diced
1 pint of grape tomatoes
5 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper
4 oz goat cheese
2-3 sprigs of tarragon

Sauté the potatoes for ten minutes in a tablespoon of butter until soft (fork tender). Add the pint of tomatoes. Sauté for another 5 minutes or until the tomatoes wrinkle. (for a more roasted favor, I like to stick the pan in a 350 degree oven for 10 min). Remove from heat and cool.

Meanwhile, place in tart shell, folding and crimping edges over the sides if the pan. Pour potato and tomato mixture in shell. Whisk together 5 eggs and 1 cup milk and pour into shell.
Top with crumbled pieces of goat cheese and and chopped tarragon before serving.

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