Friday, September 17

Daniel de la Falaise's Carrot Tarragon Soup

The renowned German writer and polymath Goethe once wrote that a really great talent finds happiness in the execution. A truism chef Daniel de la Falaise proved time and time again during my stay in France.

If you are a regular reader, you know all too well that I love to cook and that I adore good food. So, as you can imagine, I was thrilled to spend a few days watching Daniel in the kitchen. Of course, the highlight for me was a guided tour of a local market and private hands-on cooking class (we made soup no less).

Much like his beloved grandmother, cookbook author Maxime de la Falaise, Daniel is a passionate cook. He is also a food purest. Everything he prepares is fresh, locally sourced and without extraneous or unnecessary elements.

I will readily admit that I was skeptical when he prepared chicken broth using only chicken and mineral water! I will also concede that the flavor was amazing and well beyond what I could have imagined - proving my point that talent, much like beauty, must eschew ostentatiousness if it is to be fully developed.

So why was the broth so flavorful? The most obvious reason is the better the chicken, the better the broth. I also learned that you should remove all skin to achieve a rich essence. Another important step is to cover the chicken in mineral water, not tap. Mineral water imparts a clean, pure flavor. But most importantly, broths are to be simmered gently, with bubbles just breaking the surface. NEVER boil.

While the soup itself is relatively simple, it’s Daniel’s philosophy and prose that make the recipe:

a bunch of carrots
a leek
chicken broth
olive oil
fleur de sel

The idea is to source the freshest of raw ingredients and celebrate the magic of their subtle flavors. Most vegetables have a mistress in the herb garden. In the case of carrots I suggest tarragon.

The most delicious apple one is ever likely to eat will be the one plucked from a branch in an orchard and bitten instantly. Immediacy is paramount to texture and flavor. The vitality of the green tops of a bunch of carrots will give you a pretty clear idea as to how long they have been out of the ground. Hydrating vegetables in iced water for 20 minutes before peeling them will significantly improve vitality and texture.

The key to soup is organizing your ingredients in such a way that requires minimum cooking time. With this recipe, firstly mandolin your ingredients so they are paper-thin. Then in a generous pan toast them in herb infused fat. Once translucent de-glaze the pan with broth and bring the whole to a simmer.

All that remains to do is cover and stand the pan off the heat to rest. The herbs will gently infuse. Your soup will cook in its accumulated temperature as it rests. Chlorophyll is very fragile and will oxidize at a certain temperature, whereupon greens turn grays and flavors to bitter to tastes.

I aspire to flavors that stimulate, and to tastes that are subtle and clean.

Finely chop a leek. Mandolin and finely chop a bunch of carrots. Heat pan and add olive oil and a knob of butter. Add a generous branch of tarragon to infuse the oil butter mixture. Add the leek and carrots. Gently toast until translucent then remove the tarragon. Taste and season.

De-glaze with a little of the chicken broth working the fat and broth into an emulsion. Add the remaining broth to cover the carrot and leek mixture (less broth for a thicker soup and visa-versa).

Taste and season. Bring the soup up to a rolling simmer and add a generous branch of tarragon. Cover with a lid and turn off the flame. Let it stand covered to rest, allowing it to gently cook and infuse in the accumulated temperature. Resist the temptation of lifting the lid for a good 20 minutes. Then taste. Remove tarragon. When satisfied, liquidize the whole adding olive oil for body and texture. Reheat and ladle into hot soup bowls. Serve immediately.

Photo by Nikki Maxwell

Recipe by Daniel de la Falaise. All rights reserved. No part of this recipe may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying or otherwise) without the express written permission from the author. Written permission is granted on a case-by-case basis. No verbiage or graphics may be altered or modified in any way. Photos by Ronda Carman, except where noted.


Susan Moolman said...

Oh, he is delicious! (and the soup looks tasty too...)

Catherine said...

My, my, my you lucky girl! If you were not such a sweetheart I would hate you :-)

Seriously - I am thrilled for your successes and all your wonderful adventures.

Making soup with Daniel must have been a real treat. His grandmother was such a beauty, and talented too.

ALL THE BEST said...

Susan, yes, all delicious. Can't wait to see you in London. I miss you.

Catherine thank you! That is most kind. Trust me, I know that I am very fortunate and I never take it for granted. It was a fun day indeed.

Kevin said...

I know what I am having for dinner tonight. A great twist on your Soup on Sunday. Nice. Thanks.

Anne said...


Anonymous said...

Just chicken and water? Really? OK I will have to try this. Many thanks to Daniel for sharing this recipe.


ALL THE BEST said...

Thanks Kevin. I am really please with how the post turned out. I have spoken with Daniel about contributing more soup stay tuned.

Jayne...I know...right?!? But he made a believer out me for sure. Remember that the mineral water is key.


Karen Carter said...

You look so happy and relaxed. Vous etes tres belle!

Karen Carter said...

Forgot to say that I love his line, "most vegetables have a mistress in the herb garden." What a turn of phrase. One I won't forget.

ALL THE BEST said...

Thank you Karen!! Relaxed indeed. Isn't that a great phrase. I have a feeling that a cookbook is in his future...he is filled with great ideas and phrases. And good recipes.

linda said...

What a hottie, and I bet the soup was delish too ;)

Kimberly Grigg said...

What simple ingredients to produce such amazing flavor! Looking forward to trying it. I love the tip about not boiling the soup, but simmering gently! Thanks!

peggy said...

Oh yummy...away to the stove I go...thanks for a delightful post. xx

Leta Austin Foster said...

What a wonderful way to make broth and how interesting about taking off the skin. Thank you for sharing. You look so pretty sitting there eating soup--what a wonderful time you must have had.
--Leta Austin Foster

Gabriele said...

I have to agree the prose is fantastic. ‘Celebrate the magic of subtle flavors.’ ‘Most vegetables have a mistress in the garden.’ A very honest and sensual approach to cooking. Leave it to you to bring us all the best.

ALL THE BEST said...

Thank you Leta! And, yes, removing the skin made a huge difference. I was drinking the broth straight from a yummy.

Gabriele - sensual is a great word when it comes to food/cooking. It really is a gratification of the senses or the indulgence of appetite that one strives for in the kitchen.

Iona said...

Dear Rhonda,
This is a lovely blog post. Everything is just gorgeous. Whilst we were in Brittany I would see fleur de sel in all the shops. What is it that makes fleur de sel so special?

Unknown said...

Hello Ronda,
I read your blog everyday but don't always leave a comment.
So today I am raising my glass to you!
I'm going to try this recipe.
Best wishes,

ALL THE BEST said...

Thank you Barbara! Commenter or not...I'm glad you read ATB each day. Enjoy the soup.

ALL THE BEST said...

Hi Iona,
Oh are testing my knowledge. Here is my take:
fleur de sel is hand-harvested from the very top of marine salt beds under specific weather conditions.

Sometimes called the “caviar of salts” - it is so light. Delicate flakes of pure sea salt that dissolve instantly when sprinkled into food.

Ashlee said...

I go away for a week and I miss all the good posts and eye candy. I would LOVE to make soup with Chef Daniel! This looks divine on many levels ;-)