Trish Deseine makes a soup to set before a king …
You might have read my column in the September issue of The Gloss, about a new Alain Ducasse restaurant at Versailles, and a footnote at the end about how the recipe inspired by the spectacular setting – for this courtly, cressy soup – which I prepared and cooked, simply wouldn’t fit. The recipe is an adaptation of the famous French Oille soup, served at Versailles. A rich lettuce soup served with chicken broth, I have simplified it considerably. But of course you could make things much easier still by using ready-made stock and completely skipping, ice baths, mineral water and sieving! And don’t worry, I don’t think Louis or Marie Antoinette would turn in their graves if you didn’t have gold leaf to hand either.
French Oille Soup from the Palace of Versailles
For 4 people
20 minutes preparation
3 hours chilling
45 minutes cooking
For the Lettuce puree
1 green lettuce
60g baby spinach
1 clove of garlic
1 bunch of parsley
2 teaspoons olive oil
20g unsalted butter
50ml whipping cream
50ml whole milk
For the Watercress condiment
1 bunch of watercress
40g baby spinach
1 clove of garlic, poached in simmering water for 10 minutes
50ml olive oil
Dash of lemon juice
For the white chicken stock
2 boneless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon olive oil
50g tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 seeds green cardamom
1 star anise
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
50g of ginger
200g chanterelles, washed, chopped
1 lemongrass stick
2 bundles chervil
1 bunch tarragon
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
1 litre mineral water
1 bird’s eye chili
the juice of ½ a lime
4 gold leaves
Wash the lettuce, then peel it and cut it into a chiffonade.
Put a cast iron casserole dish on the heat, add the olive oil then the butter, sweat the onion and garlic, add the lettuce and cook very quickly. When cooked, add the spinach leaves and parsley leaves.
Cook, then cool in an ice bath.
Once cold, sieve the mixture through a muslin, keep the cooking juice to add to the chicken broth.
Using a blender, blend the lettuce purée with the milk, cream and eggs.
Adjust the seasoning and mix everything. Filter through a fine sieve and set aside for at least 3 hours in the fridge.
Heat another casserole dish, add the olive oil, then the unsalted butter. Once it turns nutty, drop the watercress and spinach leaves in quickly, then deglaze with a little white stock.
Cook quickly then cool on ice.
Using a blender, mix everything with a little olive oil, the clove of garlic cooked in water for 10 minutes, dissolve the puree with white stock or water to obtain a soft, light green watercress purée, then set aside.
For the broth
Take a medium-sized cast iron casserole dish, add the olive oil and brown the boneless chicken thighs without browning them too much.
Once the pieces are golden, add the butter, then the pepper, the other spices (cardamom, star anise, fennel).
Roast, then add the shallot, ½ stick of lemongrass and the ginger cut into pieces, continue to brown on the heat.
Add the chanterelles. Deglaze with mineral water.
Bring to a boil, then skim and cook slowly for at least 1 hour 30 minutes.
Add the chopped herbs (chervil, tarragon, parsley), the remaining lemongrass, the chili pepper, cover with a damp cloth and let reduce to 2/3 volume. Right at the end, add the grated lime zest and let infuse for 10 minutes.
Filter in a fine sieve and set aside.
Finishing the dish
In bowls placed in a bain-marie, put 1 small ladle of the lettuce mixture, wrap the whole thing and bake at 90 ° C for 25 minutes.
During this time, warm the watercress condiment and add a dash of lemon juice.
Place a spoonful of watercress condiment on the warm lettuce soup
Serve the broth quite hot on the side, and to pour it in at the last minute.
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