Cream of Chestnut soup

A surprise for you in today's column: une recette! Today's recipe couldn't have come at a better time as our family, along with a circle of French friends, will celebrate Thanksgiving here on the 20th (I know, early) and I have been looking for a light first course to serve.

I used to think soup was as easy to understand as, well, French. It was one of those things that you bought in a can, began with "Cream of" and, if you were lucky, had little floating letters inside. I never knew of anyone who actually made soup. Perhaps that is because I come from the Valley of the Sun, where we eat less soup and more chilled guacamole. And then, about 10 years ago, on a chilly evening in Provence, my friend Corey "the antiques guru" set me straight.

"Nothing to it!" she said, as she ladled out velvety soupe au potiron from one of her charming French soup terrines. I picked my jaw up from the floor before rolling up two sleeves: it was high time to learn to cook. One hundred or so homemade soups later, and I can say: je parle bien le français!

la châtaigne (sha-tehn, or sha-teh-ny) noun, feminine
1. chestnut
2. punch (of the hand)
3. shock (electric)

...une châtaigne is also called "un marron" (ma-rohn) = "chestnut" and "brown".

Also:
une châtaigne d'eau = water chestnut
une châtaigne de mer (un oursin) = a sea urchin

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Expressions:
flanquer une châtaigne = "to land a chestnut" = to punch someone               tirer les châtaignes du feu (avec la patte du chat) = to pull the chestnuts from the fire with the cat's paw = to knock oneself out for someone else's benefit; to make someone else do a perilous task

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Citation du Jour
Châtaigne: femelle du marron.
The sweet chestnut: female of the chestnut
. --Gustave Flaubert

The following column is in English and French.

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Around our table, in France
by Barbara Barles

A few of you have asked that I share recipes, and so Kristi and I have decided that the subject of today's edition would be culinary!

I offer you a seasonal recipe, one that I got from my Mom, (the same goes for most of my recipes!) which makes a delicious first course or a main course for a light dinner.

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Cream of Chestnut Soup

The quantity of ingredients will depend (obviously) on the number of people you are preparing this soup for. As for me, when I prepare this recipe, I use a big cooking pot, which permits me to serve it as a first course for around 8 people.

Prepare a vegetable broth by boiling a large quantity of water to which you will add carrots, celery, leeks, turnips, salt and pepper. Cook the chestnuts in this broth and add a cube of chicken broth.

Canned chestnuts will work fine! Plan on two or three big cans of chestnuts, depending on the quantity of broth. Let simmer until the vegetables are well cooked, then put the mixture through a vegetable mill or use an electric mixer. Add sour cream and mix. Just before serving, add sliced chestnuts and a bit of chervil on top.

Enjoy your meal!

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Barbara Barles is a legal expert based in Toulon, France. She enjoys trying out new recipes on friends and the pleasing "qualité de vie" in her native Provence.

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Today's Column (in French)

Certains d'entre vous ayant souhaité que je leur communique des recettes, Kristi et moi avons décidé que le sujet de la rubrique "French word a day" serait aujourd'hui culinaire !

Je vous propose donc une recette de saison, que je tiens de ma Maman, (comme la plupart de mes recettes d'ailleurs!), qui constituera une délicieuse entrée ou un plat unique pour un dîner léger par exemple.

Velouté de chataîgnes

La quantité d'ingrédients dépendra (évidemment) du nombre de personnes pour lequel vous préparerez ce velouté. En ce qui me concerne, lorsque je cuisine cette recette, je prévois une grande marmite, ce qui me permets de la servir en entrée, à une huitaine d'invités.

Préparez un bouillon de légumes en faisant bouillir une grande quantité d'eau dans laquelle vous aurez émincé carottes, céleri, poireaux, navets, le tout assaisonné de sel et de poivre. Faire cuire dans ce bouillon, auquel vous ajouterez un bouillon de volaille, des chataîgnes.

Des chataîgnes en boîte feront tout à fait l'affaire ! Deux ou trois grosses boîtes sont à prévoir, en fonction de la quantité de bouillon. Laissez cuire à couvert jusqu'à ce que les legumes soient bien cuits, puis passez le tout au moulin à légumes (grille fine), ou au robot électrique. Ajoutez-y de la crème fraîche et mélangez le tout . Au moment de servir, incorporez dans le velouté des chataîgnes émincées et du cerfeuil.

Bon appétit !!!

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une mèche

Meches or locks (c) Kristin Espinasse
Introducing our new correspondent, Jackie Espinasse. She has named her column "Pensées d'une Petite Fille de France" (Thoughts of a Little Girl from France). I told her that "Thoughts from a little French Girl" might be better, but she prefers it her way. She will be 7-years-old in just over a week. Today's story is in French and English and is a mix of fiction/non fiction.


mèche (mesh) noun, feminine

1. lock, streak (of hair)
2. wick (candle); fuse (firecracker)
3. a drill bit (tool)

Also:
une mèche folle = a stray lock/wisp of hair
une mèche rebelle = a wayward lock of hair
une mèche lente = a safety fuse
une mèche postiche = a hairpiece, toupee

Expressions:
se faire faire des mèches = to have highlights put in one's hair.
Y a pas mèche (slang) = there's no way (it's impossible)
être de mèche avec quelqu'un = to be in cahoots with someone
vendre la mèche = to spill the beans, to let the cat out of the bag
découvrir la mèche = to uncover the plot


Citation du Jour

Même si votre mère vous trouve parfaite, elle aura toujours besoin de replacer l'une de vos mèches de cheveux.

Even if your mother thinks you are perfect, she will always need to smooth back a lock of your hair.—Suzanne Beilenson



Pensées d'une Petite Fille de France... by Jackie Espinasse

L'autre jour, je suis allée chez le coiffeur pour me faire colorer les cheveux. Je voulais des cheveux roses parce que c'est ma couleur préférée.

Je me suis assise sur la chaise pour qu'on puisse peindre mes cheveux. J'ai dit à la coiffeuse: "Je n'ai pas envie que tout soit peint. Je veux juste quelques petites mèches roses." Et comme ça, elle a commencé à peindre mes cheveux roses!

Et après, quand on a fini de me colorer les cheveux, j'ai pris un bonbon rose (parce que c'est ma couleur préférée)!

* * * *

The other day I went to the hairdressers to get my hair colored. I wanted pink hair because (pink) is my favorite color.

I sat down on the chair so that they could paint my hair. I told the hairdresser: "I don't want all of my hair painted. I would just like a few pink streaks. And just like that, she began to paint my hair pink!

And after, when she finished coloring my hair, I took a pink bonbon (because it is my favorite color)!

*   *   *
A note from Jackie's mom: Rest assured, Jackie's hair is not pink (not yet, anyway). It is still vert after a summer of mixing white blond hair with eau de piscine.*

French Vocabulary

vert (adj.) = green

l'eau de piscine (f) = pool water

arbre or tree (c) Kristin Espinasse
Wonderful tree branches (kind of like unruly mèches?) in the village of Tarradeau, next to Les Arcs-sur-Argens.

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle