Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Feature: Potage Crécy (French Carrot Soup) with Virginia Viognier by Lisa Pélanne

This week I thought it would be fun to feature Lisa  Pélanne, author of Cooking in a Small Town and oenology expert.  When I asked Lisa to give me a brief update on her bio and her history with her Cooking in a Small Town blog, here is what she said:

  • started in 2007 as a recipe site for family and friends (people were always asking for recipes!)
  • in 2009 I entered the Virginia Farm Bureau's Save Our Food recipe contest and won first prize; they decided to interview me and do a write up in their Cultivate magazine since I am so passionate about healthy food and farm-to-table, and they liked the wine pairing angle
  • I always recommend a wine with the recipe when relevant
  • I used it as a blog for our kitchen remodel last summer which was really fun and people loved to watch the progress
  • Having a young child means frequent lapses in writing...but I'm doing my best! :) I have so many photos of cooking/meals that I haven't written up yet...
I love Lisa's approach to cooking and including French cuisine in her daily life!  Visit her site for more recipes and wines, as well as updates on Lisa!  I hope you enjoy this post by Lisa as much as I did. :)

An easy version of a classic French Carrot Soup, Potage Crécy
Potage Crécy
(All Photos by Lisa)

  • 2 tbps butter
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1.5 pounds carrots*, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium waxy potato, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2" piece of ginger, peeled and minced, optional
  • dash of cayenne, tsp of curry powder or ginger, optional
  • parsley, cilantro, or chives
  • Greek yogurt, sour cream, or crème fraîche
In a large soup pot, cook the carrots, onion, potato, and garlic (and the fresh ginger if you are making the carrot-ginger soup version) in the two tablespoons of butter over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the 4 cups of stock (I usually use 2 cups of stock and 2 of water, because I use my homemade stock, which is fairly concentrated) and the pepper and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes.

Remove soup from the heat and carefully puree using a stick blender, food mill, or process in batches in a blender. Return the pureed soup to the pot, stir in the heavy cream (light cream or whole milk also work well, but you should make it at least once with heavy cream!) and taste for seasonings. Add salt and additional pepper as necessary. A dash of cayenne pepper is a nice addition here as well, and if you didn't use fresh ginger, a teaspoon of powdered ginger can be added. Sweeter curries also compliment the flavors of carrots, and adding a teaspoon or so of curry powder gives a delicious curried carrot soup. Heat and stir well to blend flavors.

Serve with chopped fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, and chives are favorites) and/or a little crème fraîche, sour cream, or Greek yogurt. A green salad and crusty French bread round out the meal. Bon Appétit!

*Note: This soup is very good with grocery store-bought carrots. However, if you can access locally grown carrots from your farmers market, they elevate the soup to divine!

Wine pairing:
My favorite wine to pair with potage Crécy is Viognier, and there are several very well-crafted Virginia Viogniers that would be wonderful with this soup. Of course, a French Viognier would be a lovely pairing and nod to the origin of the soup (Crécy is the area in France with the reputation for growing the best carrots!). The herbal and floral aromatics in really fresh carrots compliment the floral components in Viognier beautifully. Another wine I would recommend for this soup is Albariño, another aromatic variety that has its origins Spain but has been planted in Virginia as well. Cheers!

Veritas 2011 Viognier from Afton, Va. Elegant and balanced. Floral aromatics with varietal characters of apricot, pear, honeysuckle, and orange blossom.

Another Virginia Viognier from the Northern region. This wine is unctuous and decadent with tropical fruit aromatics and a rich mouthfeel.

Horton was the first to plant Viognier in Virginia and has been a champion for the variety. In 2011 Viognier was named Virginia's state grape!

Domaine des Salices 2009 Viognier. A vin de pays from the Languedoc. A good value (retails for about $15) Viognier from France.

Lisa Pélanne is a wine consultant based out of Blacksburg, Virginia. She specializes in wine sensory evaluation throughout the process of winemaking from harvest to post-bottling. She received her B.S. in Biology from the College of William and Mary in 1996 and her M.S. in Immunology from Virginia Tech in 2002. She worked as a Research Associate in the Virginia Tech Food Science and Technology Department’s Enology-Grape Chemistry Laboratory from 2002-2009, where she conducted research on grape and wine aroma/flavor chemistry and how it pertains to wine quality, served as winemaker, and organized and participated in education outreach programs. In addition to working with vintners and retail shops, she conducts educational seminars to a wide range of audiences on the art and science of wine, winemaking, and the enjoyment of wine as part of a healthy lifestyle and the art of living.

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