Today’s Soupe Flamande with Creme Fraiche and Frizzled Brussels Sprouts from from Delia Smith—Britain’s top selling cookbook author and television show host.
In Britain, the phrase The Delia Effect refers to the surge in profits of a product once given the seal of approval by Ms. Smith, kind of like our Colbert Bump. One good word from her can send sales soaring. Some say this wildly popular cooking icon is the British equivalent of Martha Stewart, and given her level of celebrity I’m a little surprised I hadn’t heard of her until now.
If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
Restaurants that are run by real cooks serving real food, and not what Elizabeth David called “theatre on a plate”. ~~~from the Guardian, 11/2011
Delia Smith has been teaching the British to cook on television since the 1970s, and publishing cookbooks almost as long. While she doesn’t have the charisma of a Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson, Smith does have staying power and a deep rooted following in Britain. Her niche is the world of everyday cooking and she taps into the huge market of everyday cooks. Critics claim she’s bland and simplistic; one of her shows taught the viewers how to boil an egg. But it’s hard to argue with such broad based popularity. You can explore her recipes and decide for yourself at her site Delia Online.
I chose this Flemish soup for a couple of reasons. While it’s definitely a winter soup, made with winter vegetables like potatoes, leeks and Brussels sprouts, it’s delicate green color is like a breath of spring. These days I’m looking for these kinds of foods that suggest the seasonal transition.
The other reason I had to try this soup was the frizzled Brussels sprouts. I’ve been hearing rumblings about them here and there on the Internet, and let me tell you these little unassuming bits of shredded and fried sprouts are epic. Whatever you do, don’t skip them, they make this soup.
As we were eating our soup last night my husband turned to me and said, make sure you advise your readers to maximize the frizzles. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Consider yourselves advised.
Also try ~
- 12 oz (350 g) potatoes
- 2 large leeks
- 12 oz (350 g) Brussels sprouts
- 2 oz (50 g) butter
- 15 fl oz (425 ml) hot stock made with Marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon powder (I used chicken stock)
- 1 pint (570 ml) milk
- 2 rounded tablespoons crème fraîche
- squeeze of lemon juice
- salt and freshly milled black pepper
- To garnish:
- 4 level tablespoons crème fraîche
- 8 large sprouts, trimmed and shredded
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Start by peeling and thickly slicing the potatoes. When the leeks are trimmed and washed, cut them all the way through, vertically; then chop them into 2.5 cm (1 in) pieces. Then trim the base of the sprouts, discard any damaged outer leaves and quarter the larger sprouts and halve any smaller ones.
- Next, melt the butter in a good large saucepan, add the potatoes, leeks and sprouts, and stir well to coat them nicely in the butter. Add some salt and freshly milled black pepper, turn the heat to low, put a lid on and allow the vegetables to sweat gently for 5 minutes.
- Then add the stock and milk bring everything up to simmering point and cook very gently for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. Because of the milk, it is best to put the lid only three quarters on, to prevent everything boiling over, and to keep the heat really low.
- After that, liquidise the soup and then return it to the pan; add the 2 rounded tablespoons of creme fraiche, then reheat the soup gently, taste and add a good squeeze of lemon juice, and more seasoning if it needs it.
- Make the garnish while the soup is reheating. To do this, heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over a high heat, and when the oil is really hot and shimmering, add the shredded sprouts and fry them, stirring occasionally so they don't catch on the base of the pan. When they are crisp and golden brown, which should take 2-3 minutes, lift them, using a draining spoon, on to crumpled kitchen paper to drain. If you want to make the garnish in advance, you can re-frizzle the sprouts in a hot frying pan just before serving.
- Serve the soup in hot bowls with a little crème fraîche spooned on top of each one and garnished with the frizzled sprouts.