Velouté d’asperges | Cream of Asparagus Soup

This soup, so they say, is reminiscent of the creations of the 18th century French grande cuisine. Asparagus was introduced by the Italians during the Renaissance, and was part of a change in eating habits that saw vegetables introduced into grande cuisine. Previously they had been considered the food of peasants.

This soup is thick, smooth and delicate as well as utterly delicious. It is simple to make with easily accessible ingredients. It is the perfect soup for year-round enjoyment, as it can be served cold in Summer and hot in Winter.  We’ve been making this soup since the early 2000’s.

The soup can also be made quickly and easily in any high speed blender that also heats foods as it blends. I have given the instructions for making it this way as well as the usual, stove-top method. In the blender it takes around 15 mins, including cooking the asparagus. When you are using the high speed blender (mine is a Vitamix), then there are no worries about stringy stalks on the asparagus – all is blended into a smooth, perfect soup.

Similar recipes include Spring Onion and Green Pea Soup, Chilled Asparagus Soup, Gentle Asparagus Soup, and Asparagus Raita.

Check out our collection of:

Browse all of our other Asparagus Soup recipes, our Asparagus recipes, and our French dishes. Or explore our Late Autumn dishes.

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Golden Brown Carrots with Garlic | Carottes Dorées á l’ail

The carrot spread through Europe in the 14th Century, coming from Spain and Sicily via Italy. In very old recipe books it is treated only as one of the roots, and it wasn’t until the 18th Century that it was given a place of its own in French cuisine. A popular peasant food, the carrot was almost always present in rural dishes, like this one which turns a humble vegetable into an exquisite dish. Thankfully it is more widely accepted now, and this dish is glorious. You will love it.

The carrots are cooked slowly over low heat with oodles of garlic until crispy on the outside and softly melting in the middle.

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Gratin Dauphinois | Potato Gratin with Cream

As Winter marches on, we want dishes that we can cook in the oven, to add another source of heat to warm the kitchen. Baked dishes are also usually hearty, so they warm and nourish the body in a way that we only seek in Winter. And therefore, gratin dishes are so perfect, ticking every box. We are bringing this one back, we have posted it before. But it is such a Mid Winter Winner that we wanted to highlight it for you again.

This dish layers potatoes with cheese, covers them with milk and cream, and bakes them until bubbling and golden. Delicious! It is more potato luxury from France, where potatoes, butter and cream have a natural affinity. From memory,  my daughter’s French teacher gave me this recipe, years ago.

Are you looking for similar dishes? Try Gratin of Potatoes and Zucchini, and Gratineed Sweet Potatoes.

You can browse our Potato Bakes, all of our Gratin dishes and all of our Potato recipes. Or you might like to browse French recipes. Or simply explore all of our Early Winter dishes.

This recipe is one of our vegetarian recipes from our first blog that was in existence from 1995 – 2006; you can find them in our Retro Recipes series.

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Potage Crème de Tomates et de Pommes de Terre | Cream of Tomato and Potato Soup with Leeks

Today we have one of Elizabeth David’s Divine Dishes, a Retro Recipe – one we have been making for decades. It is a Soup for late Summer and Early Autumn through to Winter (tip – freeze tomatoes in Autumn so that you can make this soup in Winter).

This is so simple, cheap but flavoursome, and quite beautiful. Elizabeth David claims that you can taste the butter, the cream and each vegetable. You can!

Similar recipes include Sweet and Sour Leeks with Burrata, Creamy Tomato Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger, Roasted Tomato and Sweet Corn Soup, and Rustic Tomato Soup with Feta.

Browse our our Soup recipes and our French recipes. We have various Potato Soups and Tomato Soups. Or just explore our Late Autumn Dishes.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. You can explore more of the Retro Recipes series, our vegetarian recipes from that first blog.

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Farinata, Socca, Pudla, Cheela, Giant Pakora – Making Chickpea Flour Pancakes

Many parts of the world have pancakes, fritters, or thicker, baked “pan” cakes that are made from chickpea flour and water. In these variations, an infinite array of flavourings are added to the base – spices and herbs; thinly sliced vegetables such as onion, tomatoes, and zucchini, beans sprouts; coriander leaves to give a fresh crisp punch; basil or parsley oil is a terrific addition.

The various versions of the chickpea pancake – farinata in Italy, socca in France, pudla or cheela in India – are often found in the streets of cities and at roadside stalls in the rural areas. They are served on parchment paper or piece of banana leaf, and devoured hot on the spot.

The batter can be made several days before using, so plan ahead and use spare moments to mix the batter, ready for a quick snack or a mezze dish.  Mix up a double amount, and make pancakes one day, and baked chickpea pizza a day or two later. Divine.

See below for a range of pancake recipes made from chickpea flour batter. Or browse all of our Farinata and Pudla. Alternatively, explore our other Late Autumn dishes.

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Apples with Lemon and Cinnamon

Elizabeth David’s books should be compulsory reading for every person who enjoys cooking. They are reminders that food can be simple, and yet stunningly delicious. It is so important in today’s world of Ottolenghi-like complex recipes. Of course I love Ottolenghi dishes, but how good it is to be able to put a dish together quickly and simply, rather than spending an hour or so on just one dish.

This is from Liz’s book An Omelette and a Glass of Wine and it is a simple apple dessert. Cooked in a syrup, it is a rare use of sugar on this blog. Our desserts are rare. But at least once per year, we have to cook some apples.

Similar recipes include Sweet Spiced Rhubarb, An Autumn Fruit Salad, Butter Glazed Apples, and Baked Apples with Star Anise.

Browse all of our Apple recipes and all of our Elizabeth David dishes. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Pommes de Terre Maxim | Crispy Potatoes Maxim

It was much more common a decade or two ago to bake potatoes, usually sliced, with some combination of butter, cream and cheese. I guess times have changed and our weather isn’t cold enough for long enough for these dishes to still grace our tables regularly. But the recipes are worth having on hand – when guests let you know they will be arriving for a meal in less than an hour, when the weather IS cold enough to freeze the tip of your nose, and for, well, when nothing but some good old fashioned potato is going to satisfy your need for comfort.

Today is a very simple recipe – slice peel potatoes, mix with melted butter, layer on a tray and bake till crispy. We are adding it to our raft of baked potato recipes.I loved French food when I was working in France. Pommes de Terre Maxim is such a simple dish but it is oh so special. Don’t just keep it for Winter – it works well for any Sunday lunch, and even in the cooler days of Summer and into Autumn.

Similar dishes include Batata Hara (Lebanese Roasted Potatoes), Creamy Potato Cheese Gratin, Potato Bake with CheddarGratin Dauphinois, and Potatoes Baked with Cumin and Tomatoes.

Browse all of our Potato recipes and our French recipes. Check out our other Potato Bakes and explore other Mid Winter dishes too.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006.  You can find other recipes from that blog in the Retro Recipes series.

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Tomates Fondues à l’huile d’olive | Confit Tomatoes | Tomatoes in Olive Oil

For me, tomatoes are at their very very best in Autumn This year (as I write), the summer has been cooler than normal (despite a few heat waves), so I am beginning the usual Autumn uses of tomatoes a little early. Do use them in all their shapes and forms at this time of year.

These are confit tomatoes, cooked slowly in beautiful olive oil which they tend to absorb while becoming wonderfully soft. You can do them on the stove top, but I find that the heat is better controlled in the oven. They need to cook slowly. As you can tell by the name, it is a French recipe.

These are even better if the tomatoes are straight from the garden. Serve them with baked dishes, or in a salad. They go wonderfully in risotto and with pasta1 Try them as a side dish with grilled polenta and a salad. Or on inch thick fresh bread with basil or tapenade, or simply in the middle of a large white plate to enjoy on their own.

I first made these in 2002, so long ago now, but they are a traditional part of autumn cooking for us. Use large tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, just adjust the cooking time accordingly. We consider this recipe as part of our Retro series – vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 2005 – 2006. Feel free to browse other recipes from our Retro Recipes series.

Would you like other baked tomato recipes? Try Oven Baked Tomatoes, Baked Tomato Pasta Sauce and Tomatoes Stuffed with Cheese.

If you love confit recipes you will also like our dishes where food is cooked a la grecque.

You might also like our Tomato recipes. Or browse our French recipes. Check out our easy Early Autumn recipes.

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Chilled Asparagus Soup

Oh, the hot days of summer! Chilled soups are gorgeous and great for picnics or days at the beach, or just at home. This is a creamy, wonderful, silky soup for those hottest of hot days.

Or really, make this soup at any time of the year when the weather is warm and you can sit in the sunshine. There is no need to wait for Summer.

Some similar recipes that you might enjoy are French Cream of Asparagus Soup, Cream of Asparagus Soup, Quick Tomato and Cucumber Cold Soup, Fantastic Avocado and Celery Cold Soup and Roasted Tomato and Corn Cold Soup for Summer.

You might also like our Cold Soup recipes and our Asparagus recipes. Or explore our easy Early Summer recipes.

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This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006.  You can find other recipes from that blog in the Retro Recipes.

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Grilled Pecorino Wrapped in Vine Leaves

Do you have a grape vine, or access to grape vine leaves? Then this is for you. A great tea time snack, they are definitely delightful.

Pecorino is wrapped in vine leaves and then grilled until the cheese melts and the leaves crisp a little. You can even cook these on a BBQ.

Grape leaves are best picked from grape vines in the Spring and Early Summer, while they are still tender. Select young whole, medium leaves. Make sure  that the leaves haven’t been sprayed.

Similar recipes include Dolmades, Burghul Dolmas, Baked Yoghurt in Vine Leaves, Mushrooms Baked in Grape Vine Leaves and Grape Vine Leaf Powder.

Browse our grape vine leaf recipes, our Italian dishes and our French recipes. Or take some time to explore our collection of Late Spring recipes.

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