Bouillabaisse Back to Basics — a modern version of a recipe by Jean-Baptiste Reboul

Jean-Baptiste Reboul wrote “la cuisinière provençale” in 1897 and it is still a standard-bearer. I recently bought fish at Port la Nouvelle with the aim of making a Bouillabaisse.

This fish soup with chunks of fish has become a famous Marseille dish of broth, lots of fish and sea food, served with a garlicky and peppery rouille and even some grated cheese.

Not a simple white bean soup

You could make a white bean soup in about 15 minutes with a stock cube, a tin of white beans and some tomato pulp. This recipe takes a lot longer but the time and trouble is worth it as the taste is rich and smooth. You need to cook the dry white beans. I used … Read more

Portuguese cabbage soup Caldo Verde

Many national dishes have humble origins and are unlikely to grace any fancy recipe book next to gastronomic courses with noble products.

With water, potato and this cabbage the northern Portuguese made Caldo Verde, green broth, and Portuguese all over the world still eat it with pleasure and as an antidote against homesickness.

Most people are poor and have been poor over the centuries and these people did their best with what was available.

The Dutch, for instance, eat kale and endive as vegetables while elsewhere these greens are only good to feed cattle.

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Japanese-style fish soup with cockles and prawns

From time to time, I go to a Japanese shop in the area around the rue Sainte Anne in Paris, where there are many Japanese restaurants and travel agents. I stock up on some instant soups, seaweed, sesame, yuzu and dashi – a yellow soy paste.

On the outdoor market in our village, the fishmonger had cockles, live prawns and cheek of cod. I combined this into a very nice and healthy soup.  Freshly cooked prawns have a much better taste than pre-cooked prawns.

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Cauliflower soup with Avesnes cheese and smoked ham

Cauliflower is a very healthy vegetable with anti-cancer and detox properties. However, it stinks when cooking and has a very bland taste. Basically, it is boring and needs something to liven it up.

Often it is combined with cheese, as in the British cauliflower cheese dish or the Dutch cauliflower with cheese sauce dish.

In France, cauliflower is often prepared with a white sauce of cream and flour (béchamel) to which grated cheese can be added (mornay) and also ham.

Here, I make a soup of the cauliflower and add a pungent and spicy cheese – Boulette d’Avesnes.

It is another cheese from the North, made up mainly (95 {4cde4f594ebc992dd9c13235afe1d83f0ef707c70b5a049696e6a42fcf7b49ed}) of left-over Maroilles cheese with added herbs and spices such as parsley,tarragon, clove and paprika.

It has a conical shape and is red on the outside because of the paprika. I also add smoked ham, preferably Ardennes ham to stick to the Hainault area of northern France and southern Belgium.

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