Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Soup a l'Oeuf, Provencale aux Pommes de Terre

Ok, I am by no means attempting to mimic the Julie/Julia Project, but about a month ago I got my hands on a first edition copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and swore to myself i'd make something out of it once or twice a month and here I am a month later, barely getting started.

Most people have never cooked out of this cookbook for the simple reason that it really isn't a cookbook.  It doesn't read like one, anyways.  It's basically a cooking textbook.  Today's recipe, for example, took 3 pages of instructions (more if you count the 2 pages it referred to on poaching eggs), though it took only an hour and 15 minutes to make.  It's daunting, and it was not written for people who have our understanding of what it is to "fix dinner".  It was written for obsessive housewives of the 50s and 60s.

I started flipping through soups, the first chapter in the book and this was the first one I was ready to attempt that Nick thought would be filling enough, and to be honest it's a mashing of two recipes: Soup a l'Oeuf, Provencale (Garlic Soup with Poached Eggs) and Soup a l'Ail aux Pommes de Terre (Garlic soup with saffron and Potatoes).  They are both variations on Aigo Buido (Garlic Soup).  The recipes can be found on pages 46-48 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, First Edition but here is my quick synopsis of it.

One head of Garlic
2 qts Water
2 tsp of Salt
2 Cloves
1/4 tsp Sage
1/4 tsp Thyme
1/2 Bay Leaf
4 Parsley Sprigs
3 tbs Olive Oil
3 c. Cubed Boiling Potatoes
6 Fresh Eggs
Toasted French Bread Rounds

Separate cloves, but do not peel.  Boil for 30 seconds.  Run under cold Water.  Peel.

Put Water, Peeled Garlic, Spices & Olive oil in pot (I chose a saucier, she said sauce pot) and simmer for 30 minutes.

If you chose a sauce pot, strain contents through collander into saucier, if you started out in saucier, skim to make sure you have removed cloves, garlic & bay leaf.  Mash garlic with fork or food mill and return it to soup.

Poach eggs in soup.  If they aren't as fresh as you'd like, boil in shell for 10 seconds before cracking.

Set eggs aside.  Add cubed potatoes and simmer for another 30 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.  Add eggs back to warm up.  

Fill bowl with soup.  

Add toasted French Bread Rounds.  

Top with eggs.  

Top with Swiss or Parmesan Cheese.  


P.S. If you're as nebby as me, here are the Julie/Julia Project posts where she tackles these soups.  


  1. Looks lovely! I love French cooking! Mom, her sister, and I briefly did a Julie/Julia project to build some comradery. If you haven't tried it yet, beouf bourguinon is just as delightful as they make it out to be in the film.

  2. I was gonna wait on that one until my meat strike was over...which might be a while. I couldn't tell you the last time I ate beef in my house.