filling the empty nest with food
#1. Now I know why everyday cooks don’t use French cuisine techniques. It’s 8pm on a weeknight, I’ve been cooking, sautéeing, and simmering for the past hour and a half and have produced a small mountain of dirty dishes and about 3 cups of a lovely silky cream of celery soup. Enough to whet the appetites of two gracious friends, but in Escoffier’s French restaurant that would only be one of two soups before the main course. Imagine the dishes for the entire meal!
#2. If you want a soup that tastes of the essence of your main ingredient, the effort is definitely worthwhile.
#3. I’m learning that cooking by technique means there aren’t step-by-step recipes to follow. For a velouté soup, you need to know that it’s one of five distinct thick soups (as opposed to clear soups). There are purées, veloutés, thickened consommés, crèmes, and special potages. Escoffier assures us that he’s “classified rationally” all manner of soups and cleared up the confusion as to which is which. (Thank heaven for that!)
#4. What makes it velouté is the porportion of main ingredient to sauce and thickener. Veloutés consist of one half puréed main ingredient (vegetable, poultry, or fish), one half velouté sauce, plus a liaison (aka thickener) of egg yolk and cream.
#5. Don’t skip any of the steps. The mountain of dishes comes from sautéeing the celery–in butter, of course–mixing in the velouté sauce, puréeing the mixture, then straining the purée through a strainer, and whisking in a mixture of egg yolk and cream. I almost skipped the step of straining the mixture, but am glad I didn’t. There’s something about a smooth, creamy, silky soup that tastes of your main ingredient and has no distractions.