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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Beef and chervil soup with pasta

This is a very pleasant and nutritious soup for when you are trying to lose weight after spending some nice holidays. I found some interesting beef shank at the supermarket – my butcher’s is closed for a few weeks – and started by making a beef broth. The next day I removed the (little) fat from the stock and added vegetables, chervil and pasta. The chervil gives it a nice anise-like flavour.

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Pea pod soup

Fresh peas are in season and I like to use them as a vegetable side-dish. It is a bit of work to get them out of the pods. I usually leave the peas like they come but in gastronomic restaurants they remove the outer skin and use the two inner halves. At least that is what I learned at the cooking school of Alain Ducasse. That is a job for a patient person in the kitchen as it takes a lot of time.

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My French oxtail soup

Here we have a culinary and national identity conundrum. Let’s start by saying that oxtail soup is a hearty winter dish using relatively cheap ingredients. Personally, I always associate oxtail soup with England, so my French version replaced the porto with a Banyuls and added some root vegetables that do not enter in the original recipe. But what is the original recipe?

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Creamy roasted garlic soup

This soup is delicious in itself but it is also a very good remedy against hangovers. Perhaps it is an idea to have some ready that you can simply warm up the morning after the evening in the festive season…
There are several versions of garlic soup, especially from the southwest of France where they have the tourin – with onions and eggs – or, in the southeast, in the aigo boulido of the Provence, with sage.

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Lobster bisque, a creamy soup without cream

The last of my three recipes with one lobster. Okay, I had a relatively large lobster but this also works with smaller ones. After you have eaten, or presented, a lobster, you are left with a lot of broken shells as well as the soft parts in the head that not many people like to eat. You could throw it away, or use it for another preparation.

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