Welcome autumn with French version of American favorite

. September 18, 2019.
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By Wolfgang Puck
Tribune Content Agency

More even than deepest winter, I always think of autumn as soup weather.

The very fact that it seems like a transitional season – with still summery days gradually giving way to cool weather and then, eventually, the first rains or snows – suits it to all kinds of different soups, from light broths to robust bean concoctions. Not to mention the fact that the shorter days seem to welcome the comfort offered by delicious soup simmering on the stovetop.

So with the first day of autumn falling on Sept. 23rd, it seems like a perfect time to share with you one of a favorite soup my mother and grandmother once made for me and that I now love to make for my wife and sons. At first glance, it might reminder you of chicken soup with noodles, one of the all-time great comfort foods. But closer inspection, and a first spoonful, will reveal something deliciously different.

Instead of the usual noodles – which call for mixing, rolling, and cutting egg-enriched dough – this recipe features ribbons of crepes flecked with chopped fresh herbs. They’re so easy to make that you can mix their batter and cook them close to the last minute. But you can also prepare them well in advance, refrigerating them for up to five days or freezing them (stacked between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight bag) and then thawing them in the refrigerator overnight before cutting into ribbons.

As for the soup itself, it’s a classic bouillon – the French term for a simple, straightforward broth. To make it, you’ll need time to simmer a whole chicken along with aromatic vegetables and the bundle of cheesecloth-enclosed fresh herbs known as a bouquet garni. The cooked chicken meat, shredded after removing the skin and bones, becomes an essential garnish for the final soup, along with freshly simmered vegetable julienne and the ribbons of crepe.

You can even make the bouillon ahead of time, too, refrigerating up in a covered container for up to 4 days. Before reheating it, use a large spoon to carefully remove any fat you’ll find congealed on its surface.

It’s possible, also, to prepare the soup even more simply. If you like, make a batch about half the size, starting with good-quality canned chicken broth that you simmer for 30 minutes or so with some aromatic vegetables and a bouquet garni to enhance its flavor. Meanwhile, separately simmer some boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs in a little more broth or water along with fresh herbs; then, when done, drain the meat, let it cool, and shred it.

Make the crepes as usual, and you’ll have a super-quick version of the same comforting, home-style soup, perfect for the autumn days ahead.

CHICKEN BOUILLON WITH CHICKEN, HERB CREPES, AND JULIENNED VEGETABLES

Makes 4 to 5 quarts (4 to 5 l), 8 to 12 servings

BOUILLON

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled, trimmed, and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces
  • 2 large celery stalks, trimmed and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
  • 1 large leek, halved lengthwise, washed, trimmed, and cut into
  • 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) peeled and chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) peeled and thinly sliced shallots
  • 1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 whole cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds (1.5 to 2 kg), wrapped in cheesecloth
  • 5 to 6 quarts (5 to 6 l) low-sodium canned chicken stock
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar

GARNISHES

  • 1 cup (250 ml) each julienned carrots, leek, and celery
  • Herb Crepes (recipe follows), trimmed into squares and cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) strips
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) minced fresh chives
  1. In a 12-quart (12-l) stockpot, heat the oil over high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, leeks, parsnips, garlic, and shallots.
  2. SautÈ, stirring frequently, until tender but not yet browned, 7 to 10 minutes.
  3. With cheesecloth and kitchen string, tie the parsley, thyme, bay leaves, cloves, and peppercorns into a secure bundle. Add to the pot.
  4. Add the chicken, stock, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours.
  5. Carefully remove the chicken to a platter. When it is cool enough to handle, unwrap it, discard the skin, and remove the meat from the bones. Shred the meat into strips 1/4 inch by 2 inches (6 mm by 5 cm). Refrigerate in a covered bowl.
  6. Pour the bouillon through a fine strainer over a large mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and sugar.
  7. To serve, reheat the bouillon in a large pot over medium heat.
  8. Add the chicken strips and julienned vegetables and simmer for 1 minute. Add the crepe strips and simmer for 1 minute. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with chives. Serve immediately.

HERB CREPES

Makes about 24 crepes, 9 inches (22.5-cm) each

  • 3 cups (750 ml) milk
  • 2/3 cup (165 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 1/3 cups (335 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) minced fresh chervil leaves
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) minced fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) minced fresh chives
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and process until well blended. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
  2. Heat a 10 1/2-inch (26.25-cm) nonstick sautÈ pan over medium heat. Pour in 1 1/2 ounces (45 ml) batter and swirl to cover the bottom. Cook until the top begins to dry and the bottom is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip with a spatula and brown the other side about 1 minute. Remove from the pan to a platter to cool.
  3. Stack the cooled crepes on a plate, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

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