“Who comes to France to make soup?” asks Gaston.
“What more French thing to do than to boil up a carcass with some mirepoix to make potage?” Mimi responds.
Making soup is part of our Monday ritual at Montplaisir. First, visit the Monday morning Mirepoix market and purchase produce for the week. Next, go to the bakery and stock up on baguettes and other breads to last the next 36 hours. Last stop on the excursion: go by the rotisserie wagon to pick up lunch: one whole chicken and a carton of potatoes roasted in a pan under the turning chickens to catch all their jus (and fat).
Back to Montplaisir, where Gaston debones the bird and sets the skeletal bits to boil in a potful of water on the stove. Mimi makes a green salad and slices bread. They eat; the carcass simmers; they sip blanquette; the carcass simmers; they clean up; the carcass simmers; they find their current reading material and lounge on the terrace; the carcass simmers. At last, Mimi strains the stock and sets it to cool, and Gaston brings the resulting chicken trash up to the dustbins at the top of the road.
Then, the creative part: consolidating and taking care of many of the bits in the frigo—that last carrot from the previous week’s trip to the market, the lonely, withering stalk of celery, the handful of leek leaves and half an onion, the leftover potatoes and bits of meat from lunch, the rice from the previous night’s supper, and the herbs harvested from fields and trailsides during the week’s hikes.
Different each time. Satisfying every time.
Other kitchen adventures include:
- Duck, cooked lightly with coat of fresh-ground pepper, then served with steamed spinach and apricot-and-onion confit. That was yummy;
- A green salad dressed with peaches stewed in balsamic vinegar and strips of dry ham.
- Pasta in a ham, wine, eggplant and tomato sauce, with field herbs;
- Onion tart with Dijon-mustard seasoning;
- Onion and tomato tart;
- Mimi’s signature fennel-apple-hazelnut salad with Dijon vinaigrette—the real French dressing;
- Stacks of roasted eggplant, roasted red pepper, roasted tomato and fresh cheese, with balsamic syrup and figs;
- and Cédric Diant’s pastries from Mirepoix.
Last time, Mimi tried cooking rabbit stew, but ended up with stewed leather instead.