Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Potato/Onion Soup with Herbs, Crème Fraîche, & Saucisses de Strasbourg

This recipe is simple to follow, requires no special tools, and takes about an hour to make.  It's creamy, tangy peasant fare--an inexpensive meal in a bowl.  Saucisses de Strasbourg are lightly smoked pork links which are a bit richer and less salty than frankfurters.

Some people have a low opinion of frankfurters, calling them rubber sticks, and some brands I am afraid do fit that description.  Besides being a native New Yorker who as an university student happily subsisted on dirty-water dogs sold from colourful street carts, my paternal side of the family hails from Alsace, the land of choucroute garnie.  Therefore, if death-by-pork holds no fear for me, a few slices of wurst in my soup bowl won't either.  Portion control and a balanced diet allows eating some items that would be problematic if consumed excessively in a generally bad diet.  What works well in this soup is flavourful, lightly smoked, slightly spicy, cooked sausage, so choose any charcuterie that fits this description.  I suspect knackwurst and maybe even kielbasa would turn out equally well.

The potato harvest, especially the wonderful Desiree variety with its yellow flesh and red skin, was fantastic this season.  I started to use my garden's taters in August and foresee enough in the cellier to last for another three months which means at present I am growing fifty percent of our potatoes, and we do eat a lot of them.  Yay! When the haulmes have turned mostly yellowish brown and flop over, then it is time to dig up the succulent tubers.  Using a large garden fork, I carefully loosen the earth around each mound.  Some of the tubers get snagged on the fork's tines tearing their skin, and those get eaten relatively soon.

Late-season Desiree

Mid-season Mona Lisa

I let the potatoes dry outside for an hour or so, and then put them in our root cellar for storage.  They need to be stored in a dark, cool, and not too dry spot, away from any stored apples which release ethylene causing potatoes to sprout.

Potato/Onion Soup with Herbs,  Crème Fraîche, and Saucisses de Strasbourg 
10-12 servings

  • Potatoes, all-purpose, 8 large
  • Parsley, fresh, 2 Tbls or dried, 1 Tbl
  • Dill, fresh, 1 Tbl or dried, 1 tsp
  • Chives, fresh 2 Tbls or dried, 1 Tbl
  • Crème fraîche, 25 cl/8 fluid ounces
  • Onions, finely minced, 120 grams (1 medium onion)
  • Butter, 2 teaspoons
  • Saucisses de Strasbourg, or the best frankfurters or other lightly smoked pork sausage you can buy, 10
  • Milk, 500 ml/16 fluid ounces (approximate, add til desired consistency is reached)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mince the onions finely, and saute for about fifteen minutes over low heat until yellow, stirring occasionally to guard against any browning.  You want the onions to be softly mellowed not crisp or brown.

Scrub, peel, and cube potatoes.

Mince finely the herbs if fresh.  Kitchen shears are great for snipping chives.

Mix the herbs, cubed potatoes, and freshly ground black pepper with the sauteed onions.

Barely cover with water, and bring to a simmer for about twenty minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

While the soup is cooking, slice the saucisses and put them in a large bowl.  Of course, you can use less if desired.

When the potatoes are tender, remove half of them and add to the bowl with the saucisses.  Blend the remaining potatoes in the pot with a stick mixer or in a blender for about several minutes.  Use a light touch as potatoes get grey and gooey when worked too long. Using a potato masher would work also, though the soup will not be as smooth.  Add milk until the consistency is to your liking.

Then beat the crème fraîche with a wire whisk or a fork into the blended potato soup.  Yes, this could left out or the amount reduced.  I just eat smaller portions!

Put the reserved potatoes and the saucisses into the pot.  Heat for a few minutes for them to get warm, soft, and a bit puffy.  I wait until now to add salt, as the saucisses themselves salt the soup. Served piping hot, this savoury soup with a slight smoky overtone will warm you from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.  And I love that the onions, potatoes, and herbs are all from my garden.  However, this soup does not freeze all that well, so we tend to eat it several days in a row until it's all gone.

In the potager, both Dayo and I were glad to be out and about after five days of rain.  It is a delightful feeling when the sun comes out after a long spell of being hidden behind clouds.  The air is softly moist and everything smells fresh.

The Brussels sprouts are beginning to come in.  When the sprouts are about an inch in diameter, I snap them off starting at the bottom of the stalk and gradually work my way up as more come into maturitySometimes it is easier to remove the leaf first, and then harvest the sprout.  They are quite resistant to frost which actually sweetens them, making them a wonderful winter veggie.

Brussels sprouts are in the front and broccoli in the background

As with broccoli and cauliflower, they taste fantastic when roasted.  Elise over at Simply Recipes has a nice approach roasting these baby cabbages.   Since Brussels sprouts are just one cultivar of Brassica oleracea which includes cabbages, they are really baby cabbages.  I remember well the puzzled, young man who queried what strange veggie I had in my grocery basket.  When I told him, he asked me in all seriousness,  Can a person eat more than one at a sitting

In order to freeze a surplus, whether from your garden or farmer's market, rinse them, remove any blemished leaves and trim their bottoms if tough.  Put them in a pot of boiling water for two minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon.

Emerald beauties

Immediately place under cold, running water to stop the cooking.  Dry well with a tea towel.  Put in a freezer bag.  Zip almost closed, leaving a small opening to insert a straw.  Draw out as much air as is possible, closing up the last bit as you do, and label.

À la prochaine!


Shoestring French fries garnish for potato soup
Sowing potatoes
Hilling & fertilising potatoes
Transplanting Brussels sprouts & broccoli
Roasting broccoli