Few would argue that there’s anything more satisfying than a bowl of comforting home-made soup. In France, soups are king and relished year round. If lunch was hot and heavy there’s nothing like a velvety potage come evening. In fact, On va souper? means, “Shall we have dinner?” in French.
At bistro sensation L’Ami Jean you can indulge indulging in chef Stéphane Jégo’s remarkable Parmesan cheese soup. He uses a quart of cream, milk and half a pound of Parmesan cheese to make it. And he’s shared his recipe so you can make it at home.
Pour the hot soup into bowls where a crispy garnish of chopped chives, walnuts, bacon bits, croûtons and crumbled Parmesan await, adding texture and definition for a life altering soup you’ll want to make again and again.
Stéphane Jégo’s Parmesan Soup recipe
Serves 4 – 6
Total preparation / cooking time: not more than 45 minutes
For the soup:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion thinly sliced
400 g / 1/2 pound sliced Parmesan cheese (no pre-grated industrial!)
1 laurel leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary 1/2 liter / 1/2 quart milk 1/2 liter / 1/2 quart cream
1/2 liter / 1/2 quart home-made stock
For the garnish:
1/4 cup finely chopped bacon
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
a few walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup diced country-style bread for croûtons
A few raw fava beans – 2 or 3 per bowl
Salt (at end, to taste)
Freshly cracked pepper
Optional: Pinch of piment d’espelette for heat
To a heavy bottomed medium-sized pot add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the onion. Fry until the onion is transparent, stirring constantly.
Add half the Parmesan cheese to the onion along with the laurel leaf, thyme and rosemary sprigs. Keep stirring for 5 minutes.
Add the milk, cream, and almost all the chicken stock (reserve a little in case the soup is too thick at the end). Bring up to a boil stirring, then let simmer on very low heat for about 15 minutes.
Fry the chopped bacon until crispy in a tiny bit of olive oil. Remove. In the same pan stir-fry the bread cubes at medium high heat to make croûtons (or flash fry the bread bits til crisp in oil that’s hot enough so the bread won’t absorb oil).
When the soup is ready remove the bay leaf and sprigs of rosemary and thyme (some prefer to keep it in) and, using a hand mixer, tilt the pot and blend. Add the remaining Parmesan (reserving a small chunk to crumble into bowls at the end). Place back on the burner and keep stirring. When the Parmesan is melted down, blend again. Adjust seasoning for salt (careful here: Parmesan is already salty), stir and strain (important). Keep the soup hot on low heat.
Distribute the bacon, chopped walnuts, chives, croûtons, fava beans and crumbled Parmesan evenly into individual soup bowls.
Check the soup one last time. If it’s too thick, add a little of the reserved stock and whisk. Pour or ladle the soup over the garnish in the bowls. Add a little freshly cracked black pepper and, if desired, a pinch of piment d’espelette to each bowl.
Chez L’Ami Jean, 27 rue Malar, 75007 Paris
Barbara Pasquet James is a lifestyle editor and speaker who writes and speaks about French food, fashion and culture, in Paris. Her photo blog is www.FocusOnParis.com