Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Whisk Wednesday Assignment #13, Part 7 -- Potage Ambassadeur (Split Pea Soup with Bacon, Sorrel, and Lettuce)

I stood alone in the rain on a corner, holding out my hands beseechingly and saying, "Sorrel. Sorrel. Won't someone give me some sorrel? Or show me where to buy it? Or, I don't know...maybe tell me what it is?"

1. Any of several plants of the genus Rumex, having acid-flavored leaves sometimes used as salad greens, especially R. acetosella, a widely naturalized Eurasian species. Also called dock4.
2. Any of various plants of the genus Oxalis, having usually compound leaves with three leaflets.

Oh. Well, that certainly clears things up.

I searched through the produce departments of several different markets and sooper-sized groceries and could not find sorrel. I hope it doesn't have some kind of magical taste that turns a simple pot of split pea soup into a classy dish worthy of Marie Antoinette, because if it did, we missed it.

However, this was also a very easy soup to make and let me tell you -- it is delicious. Delicious! Nothing went wrong this week, well, unless you include not being able to identify sorrel in a lineup of suspicious-looking fruits and vegetables.

Potage Ambassadeur was made up of homely, comforting split peas, carrots, onions, leeks, garlic, rice, bacon and heavy cream, all cooked together in a nice, hearty porridge -- a potage, which means "thick, creamy soup" -- that whispers "Cold, rainy evening in late October" into your ear. I can hardly wait to make this again in the autumn, when the aroma of it cooking on the stove will make everyone in our big, chilly barn of a house feel all warm and cozy.

Meelyn, Aisling and I did take a few liberties with the recipe, though.

1) I made the executive decision to not use bacon, since we were already dealing with butter and heavy cream. I used Canadian bacon, which was very delicious. In the past, I've always eaten split pea soup with ham in it.

2) The three of us loved the rustic peasant look of this soup and we couldn't bring ourselves to purée it in the food processor. It's so adorable with its little peas and bits of carrot and leek and onion and Canadian bacon. It is a happy-looking soup. Don't ask me to explain that. Just make it yourself and then stand at your stove and giggle at its preciousness. If soup were a baby, this one would be both Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in the early years of Full House, back when they were just learning how to talk.

3) I have GIVEN UP on trying to make a bouquet garni hold together, so I am now putting all my aromatics (parsley, thyme, leek, bay leaf and celery) in a little cheesecloth bag and tying it up in a cute little bundle.

That's all I have for you this week, because it has been a hella day (sorry, Mom) and I have a headache that is about to split my head, just like a pea.

We're done with soupes and moving on to entrées!

Next week! Steak Mirabeau (Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Anchovy Butter) page 426-427


Natashya said...

I am glad you liked it, we did too.
I used Canadian bacon as well, it just seemed to be a good fit, and I couldn't find sorrel either so - no worries!

Shari said...

I couldn't find sorrel either. I'm glad it was just a garnish, but spinach did fine in its place. I love that you kept it chunky instead of blended. Great job!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

Teanna said...

It sounds delicious!

The bouqet garni is my mortal enemy as well!

Jessica Eiden said...

I gave up on the bouquet garni long ago.

This soup was delicious!

Anonymous said...

i am so glad to be moving on from soups, LOL. I've had it with stocks, broths, bouqet garni, and I stil don't know what sorrel is.

Rosebear said...

I'm sorry to hear about your headache Shelley...but your post was wonderful! You described the essence of love from split peas perfectly!
Best wishes ~ Glennis

Kayte said...

Oh, Matt and I loved this soup...Mark and Alex took one look at it and said, "I am not eating that." Too bad as it was really really good...even without the sorrel (or maybe because it didn't have the sorrel, either way, it was good and I will make it time Mark and Alex go on a scout campout). The bacon was really good in it. I will have to try your version next time as it sounds good, too.