Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chilled Mushroom Tomato Soup...and some Angoulême sightseeing

August brings both high temperatures and gorgeous, plump, bursting-with-flavour, ripe tomatoes to our potager. Continuing the trend of adapting my repertoire of hot soups for les beaux jours, it is time for Mushroom Soup à la forestière to get a summery makeover.

For each serving, you will need eight fluid ounces of well chilled and seasoned Mushroom Soup à la forestière (recipe is here), a large, ripe tomato, four teaspoons of crème fraîche, a few capers and a couple of drops of sherry vinegarWash and core the tomato. Peel a small patch of skin and then trim off a few thin strips of flesh for garnishing before giving the tomato a coarse chopping.

Cored and halved, garden-fresh beefsteak

Puree the tomato pieces either in a blender, food processor, or via a stick mixer.

Sieve the tomato puree. Voilà! Tomato coulis.

Whisk three teaspoons of the crème fraîche along with the coulis into the soup.

Add a few drops of sherry vinegar--some caper brine could be substituted. Adjust seasonings, that is, salt and freshly ground pepper if necessary. Cut five small petals from the reserved tomato strips.  Put the remaining teaspoon of the crème fraîche--ease it gently off the spoon--in the middle and top with capers.  Carefully float the tomato petals to form a flower. Served with baguette de campagne (French sourdough white), this chilled, rosy-tinted soup was smooth, zesty, and earthy.

Another way to take advantage of our garden bounty of tomatoes is just to slice them thickly and sprinkle with olive oil, sherry vinegar, chiffonade of basil, capers, sliced mild peppers, and fleur de sel.

Several family members are visiting from Britain which gives us an opportunity to explore Angoulême.  Our small city each January hosts the International Comics Festival which is the largest gathering of this kind in Europe and the second largest in the world, after Comiket. Since its inception in 1974, numerous, stupendous wall murals associated with this annual event have been painted. Walking or driving through the city is a delight because though they are all over the place, they are often where you least expect them.

Natacha painted in 1999 by François Walthéry, a Belgian cartoonist

P'tit bout d'chique

This tradition has spurred other artists not associated with the festival to do their thing also.

The ivy, all the shutters, and the side window are trompe-l'oeils

Eglise Saint Martial may not be as old as some others in Angouleme, but it still is very imposing with a dignified, haughty bearing with an adjoining, spacious square. Though a place of worship has existed in this particular place since the early Middle Ages, the present Saint Martial was built in the mid-nineteenth century.

With a couple of hungry kids in tow, we headed for a market. Flat peaches with sweet, white flesh and a hint of almond are very popular here.

An 'UFO' peach

You may be wondering what a perfect dinner would be after all that trekking around. Perhaps some French charcuterie?  Nope, it was a most excellent Melton Mowbray Pork Pie brought from the UK.  

But the cornichons and baby pickled onions were French!

With all the activity, Dayo went into full bump-in-the-bed mode.

A bit of the bump is uncovered.

And some more...

 À la prochaine!


Chilled Carrot/Red Currant/Orange Soup
Chilled Golden Shrimp Chowder