From When Our Grandmothers Cooked in Provence, Frédérique Féraud-Espérandieu, Equinox, 2009.
I picked up this book when touring through Provence. We had visited the wonderful Roman aqueduct built around 19 BC, the Pont du Gard near Villeneuve-les-Avignon. It is an amazing three tiers high with the water channel on the top tier.
As is generally the case, there was an area there for tourists with a very interesting museum, snack bars and shops. We had crêpes—a little bit cardboardy but served by a cheerful assistant who was happy to give us help with our French vocabulary. Naturally there was a souvenir shop there and this is where I found the little book.
It’s a delightful little book filled with largely homely recipes from the region. Throughout the book are full-colour pages of artwork in a style that gives the flavour of the foods of Provence. I was looking forward to trying out a recipe from the book and as is my pattern with a new book, after having a good look through the pages, I tend to like to make the very first recipe. This often tends to be a soup. The soup in this case was a simple broth made by infusing herbs and garlic in water. It is claimed that it is good for the digestion. The name apparently means 'boiled water' though I have called it 'herb broth'.
In a pot of boiling water I tossed 6 peeled garlic cloves, 4 sage leaves, a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme. Two tablespoons of olive oil were added and a little salt and pepper. The mixture was simmered for 15 minutes then taken off the heat and left to infuse for a further 15 minutes. It was then strained.
In serving bowls I placed slices of toasted baguette sprinkled with a little grated cheddar cheese. The soup was then ladled in.
This was remarkably strong in flavour for what it was. The garlic naturally was the overriding element but the herbs were certainly not lost. The toasted bread added some bulk to the soup but I feel that I might enjoy it as a broth in a cup to drink during the day.
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔✔
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