Potage a la Florentine

Eddie bought me Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” volumes I & II for Christmas. One of the first things that caught my eye was ‘Potage a la Florentine,’ or cream of spinach soup. The chapter opens with a general discussion on soup thickeners. From puree, starches, roux and … egg yolks. The section goes on to say that “when beaten into and heated with the soup, thicken it lightly.”

The book calls it “elegant.” I never knew you could do it so I was intrigued. As usual in my kitchen… the recipe is adjusted based on what I had available. Surprisingly, the outcome reminded me more of Coralene Dimovitch and my A la Carte days than the movie. She’s one of my favorite culinary mentors. Funny when you stumble upon flavors, aromas and textures that bring you, enjoyably, back to a definitive time in your life. All while learning how to thicken soups with egg yolks.

Ingredients (Adjusted)

  • ¾ cups of chopped onions
  • 4 to 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 lbs of fresh spinach
  • 5 cups fresh chicken stock
  • ¼ cup plain white rice
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ cups fresh grapefruit juice

Process (As written)

  1. Cook the onions slowly in the butter [2 tbsp.] for 8 to 10 minutes until tender but not browned.
  2. For fresh spinach, trim, wash thoroughly, and chop roughly. For frozen spinach, thaw in a large bowl of cold water, drain and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent spinach from scorching.
  3. Add the liquid to the spinach, bring to the boil, and stir in the rice. Season with the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Simmer partially for 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Puree, bring again to the simmer and thin out, if too thick, with more liquid [chicken stock or milk]. Remove from heat.
  4. Blend the cream and egg yolks in the bowl with the wire whip; by dribbles, beat in 2 cups of the hot soup. Pour back into the sauce pan.
    • May be cooked ahead to this point. Set aside uncovered until cool, then cover and refrigerate.
    • Shortly before serving, set over moderate heat and stir slowly with a wooden spoon, reaching all over the bottom of the pan until soup comes almost to the simmer. Remove from heat, carefully correct the seasoning, adding lemon juice [grapefruit in my case] if you wish; stir in the enrichment butter [2 to 4 tbsp.] a tsp at a time. Serve immediately.

Cream of Spinach Soup

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