Party Soups à la Christine

French Friday’s with Dorie

Party Soups

People who can take a small bit of this, combine it with a little scrap of that, and turn it out into a terribly chic and stylish something-or-another, all with seemingly little or no effort irritate me greatly. I hate them. And yes, by “hate” and “irritate” I mean their talent makes me insanely jealous. I’m sure we all know people like this, don’t we? Dorie Greenspan certainly does for here she has given her friend Christine Vasseur’s name to these simple soups (made of practically nothing) because she believes them to be exemplars of her  supernatural ability to pull off this je ne sais quoi. While I’m not entirely in agreement that these soups are the culinary equivalent to this freakishly annoying skill I describe, I certainly understand what it is she is describing.

I have many, many friends who are Christines. Man I hate Christines.

One of my favorite (or least favorite, depending) Christines thinks nothing of wandering outside 20 minutes before her guests are to arrive for dinner so she can poach a vacant lot of its scrubby greenery, long barren tree branches and a handful of wildflowers or berries. She will then toss them together in such a manner that an absolutely stunning and dramatic flower arrangement for the table or entry way will emerge. One look at her table, which was dull just a few minutes earlier, and I hate her a bit more. I remember one time she snapped the heads of two dozen daisies “borrowed” from a neighbor and sprinkled them around the table for Sunday brunch. Everyone went nuts at her creativity.

“Isn’t Christine amazing? I never would have thought to do that!”

Then there is that other Christine friend of mine can spend not a penny more than $25 at a flea market (found by accident while going for her pre-dawn jog) and then, armed with a glue gun and a few heavily bargained for purchases, will transform our rented-for-the-week, generic vacation flat into a show house worthy of an  Architectural Digest photo shoot. I hate her too.

One of the more madding of all the Christines I know is the one always will take a few random refrigerator scraps from the night before, chop ‘em up with a fried thingamabob or a whats-it, top it all with a runny poached egg and present us with a 3-star brunch.

“Oh Christine!  I’m so glad we decided not to out for brunch today!” 

Damn her.

Knowing these frustratingly talented individuals and experiencing their savant-like creative skills makes is all the more surprising to me that Dorie thinks these simple, plain party soups exemplify the full-throttle Christine-ness of someone whose skills we are to ostensibly admire.

Can you even be a Christine if your party soup starts with a bouillon cube? Perhaps being able to use them is the defining characteristic of culinary Christines?

Party Soups Ill spare us all too much editorial on bouillon cubes since I haven’t really used them before. They don’t impress me much and even though my grandmother always had a few of them around I never saw her actually use them in her endless varieties of Refrigerator Soup. I just thought that bouillon cubes were something you served old ladies who said they were on a diet.

Perhaps my lackluster embrace of Christine’s soup talents (which doesn’t mean her children’s muffler slash Dior scarf wasn’t just as incredible as Dorie says) just wasn’t for me has more to do with my lack of enthusiasm for soup as a party starter anyway. I’m sure tossing back a shot of cold gazpacho at a fancy museum benefit is one thing but it isn’t very me.

Christine’s Party Soups

Dorie includes three versions of Christine’s Party Soups in her recipe. This installment is once again more method than recipe and so for that reason it is at least worth a look. I made all of them as I had a friend ‘in need of soup’ of the sort that wouldn’t challenge a stomach too much. In that regard these were perfect but then sick beds are not chic dinner parties are they? So if everything has its place in the grand scheme of things then these soups certainly do as well, despite what I am saying about them here.

They also looked very beautiful. So there is that too.

Of the three it was the green ones, asparagus and broccoli, that I thought were deserving of a at least passing grade — but not much more than that if we were grading on the ‘dinner party scale’ their title infers should be used. And ultimately perhaps that is my issue with these soups. Had Dorie titled these, “3 Soups Just Perfect for Your Sick Friend” or “Turn Anything Into Soup Soup” I may have been mad for them.

(The red pepper soup was a resounding ‘meh’, however and I recommend that if you do follow the link to find it you either double the amount of red pepper or reduce the stock significantly until you puree and add back to the desired consistency.)

Broccoli Soup for Sick People

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Broccoli Soup for Sick People

Adapted from Dorie's, er, Christine's version posted here. I'm sharing the broccoli version as I thought that was the best but I did have to punch it up with some oregano.

The soups can be served warm or cold and can be seasoned however you wish. If serving cold you can top with a whipped cream lightly seasoned with curry as Christine would do.

This is what you will need:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 bullion cutes
  • 1/4 pound broccoli, trimmed into florets; stems peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound zucchini, trimmed and sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

This is how you make it:

  1. Bring water and bullion cutes to a boil in a medium saucepan. Lower heat to medium and add broccoli and zucchini. Cook until veggies are cooked through and tender. They should easily pierce with a knife. About 15 minutes
  2. Add oregano and simmer 5 more minutes.
  3. Turn off heat and allow mixture to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer in batches to a blender to puree or use an immersion blender.
  4. If serving warm return the soup to the saucepan and keep warm until ready to serve.
http://www.sisboomblog.com/2014/01/christines-simple-party-soups/

Bomb+End+of+Post4

These Christine’s Party Soup were an assignment for French Friday’s with Dorie, a cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s culinary tome “Around My French Table”. We generally avoid including the recipes in our posts. However, wherever there has been a significant adaptation by me or where the recipe has already been publicly posted by Ms. Greenspan or her publishers or by hundreds of other bloggers, or it is, in fact, not much of a recipe at all, I will either include it here (adapted) or provide a direct link to it. Please feel free to contact me via the link provided on my page if you need any assistance finding a French Friday with Dorie Recipe.

You should buy the book though. It will change your life as it has mine.

About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. That ingredient list certainly does read BLAND. But then the REAL Christine I know is a very bland sort of savant, so perhaps it makes sense. The other Christine I know (and hate) can stumble upon any roadkill, no matter how grisly, and turn it into the most gourmet tartare you’ve ever had. Infuriates me, but it’s something you’re just born with, I guess.

  2. Bouillon in hot water with Saltines were as ubiquitous as “stuff on toast” in my parent’s house. The “bouillon” came out of a little cardboard lined tin/ jar (green or red – depending on whether it was chicken or beef) and had something to do with Oxen or Cattle or something… There were no Christines in my house… The seventies and eighties were not kind to my palate.

  3. Trevor, great post… I love it. I did love the broccoli/zucchini, especially chilled, makes for a great
    brunch addition with a little bit of vodka, no???

  4. LOL. I did like the asparagus soup, but mine was quite thick due to guesstimation of quantities, so the asparagus flavour really shone through. As it is summer here right now, asparagus is at its best. I don’t have any Christines in my immediate circle, other than perhaps my mother, who is a genius with leftovers.

  5. I love all the Christines in your life! P.S. I’m jealous of Dorie, too!

  6. I was surprised that these were not bland at all but I also guesstimated the quantities ;) Beautiful post :)

  7. Trevor the truth about Christine is that she hides the work.. I would have suspected that you were on to this trick having been raise a WASP. My WASP husband is a master at it… never breaks a sweat.

    Ah and bouillon… I pretended it was a typo. I used chicken broth.

    • I understand that instinct but I see these Christine’s all the time up close. I’ve watched them Christine many times. They aren’t hiding anything. It flows out of them like magic.

  8. Trevor, you soup looks fantastic. Love your stories about the different Christine’s you have in your life. It is funny how we all have Christine’s. Your comment on the bouillon cube made me laugh. Hope you have a great weekend. I enjoy reading your posts.

  9. I unapologetically broke out the veggie bouillon. It was weird for these soups not to have any kind of aromatics in them.

    I co-sign Nana’s suggestion about the vodka. Maybe a little refrigerator time and a jigger, and that pepper soup would have been quite the weekend eye-opener.

  10. I think that I may be the anti-Christine. In envy those who can make something out of nothing, dress up a bland outfit with a simple belt or find treasures at a flea market. I’ve never had the talent.

  11. I agree…perfect for a sick friend, not impressive enough to serve to company. But they are pretty…and I DO think you have a a wee bit of Christine in you, too :)

  12. LOL! “Broccoli soup for sick people”. Ya, sickies, dieters, certainly not getting me in the party mood, these soups. I agree — the green ones are ok, but the pepper one…they just want to be roasted.

  13. I hate Christines too. I agree this soup isn’t dinner party quality, but we did enjoy the broccoli version I made. In fact, we talked about how we can use it as a “refrigerator-cleansing” technique.

  14. I’m definitely jealous of Christine. Sometimes I try to take inspiration, but then, it’s never as easy as she makes it look. On the other hand, I actually enjoyed these soups, the green ones, though I seem to be in the minority this week. I used less broth because I know about Dorie’s soup preferences, but I really liked them. The red pepper was a bit thin, even with half the liquid, but that can fixed next time. And wasn’t it Adriana who suggested using the red pepper version as a base for Bloody Marys? That sounds like something you could get behind.

  15. Did your friend Christine recently visit Indian Wells and “borrow” all my roses? If so, I definitely have developed a dislike for Christine’s. Though it sounds like you have some pretty amazing Christine friends, and if you can send them my way, my kitchen needs a make-over and I’ll up the budget to $50. PS, I’m super jealous of your photography skills.

    • My Christines really are amazing. If I have any Christine tendencies it is because I have been studying them for a long time. Thank you so much for the compliment on photography. It is one of those things I have been trying to work on this past year.

  16. I am striving to be a Christine myself. But so far that kind of calm grace and marvelousness eludes me. :) I love how your soups look and sorry that the red pepper turned out so watery. I thought they were all pretty good. I used stock as I really have not seen bouillon cubes in the grocery store, well, ever. Maybe I am not looking in the right place. But they remind me of grandmothers and dieting too. I hope your friend is feeling better!

    • She is, thank you for asking! I have to find some more uses for these cubes. I’m not sure I am on board with them. I usually always have fresh stock on hand these days but I’m not so certain they are actually as interchangeable as we are led to believe.

  17. The soups may have been blah, but your photo is not – it’s gorgeous. I wasn’t a big fan of these soups, either. And Kevin forced down a spoonful of each and decided to have something else entirely for dinner last night.

  18. what is wrong with stock cubes? Here in the Old World we use them all the time and now you can find an even fancier version of the old fashioned foil wrapped dry cube. They have a gel-like consistency and are oval in shape you can only find them in the refrigerated section of the super market and they are supposed to be the next best thing to concentrated chicken and beef essence.
    Anyway I agree with you I would never serve the soups in a party unless it is a Weight Watchers party because they are virtually calorie free!!! Love your photos

  19. Did your sick friend like the soups? Was your sick friend of the many damning Christines you know? That would have been an interesting full-circle….

    Your photos are amazing too and you can always just scratch out the title in your copy and pen-in “Any Vegetable Soup for Your Sick Friend” Soup. :) Just an idea… LOL

  20. Any other time I would consider myself unlucky to not be able to pull off creative tricks but this week I think I lucked out and can relax knowing you must still like ME. Though I am beginning to wonder about my own friends as they may not be trying hard enough…..I can’t think of too many Christines. Nope, the ones I interact with are just like the posting Doristas represented here – those who figure out how to add vodka and make everything better. In fact, depending on what your friend was ill with……

  21. I laughed at bouillon cubes being for old ladies on a diet. Anyone who serves that to me is in for it. They’ll be calling me old. :) I’m not old, barely rusty if the truth be told.

    I don’t like Christines much either. I ESPECIALLY don’t like the ones who had add two sticks and a piece of rope and make a centerpiece, whip a soup together from 2 stones and a twig and then show up at dinner looking like she stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine.

  22. Are you trying to convince me that healthy food options can be tasty too?! With all these colds and flu going around, I can use all the help I can get. And yes, your photos make everything look spectacular!

  23. I don’t know how to tell you this, but you are a Christine… XOGREG

  24. Every blogger has his/her own style and I could pretty much recognize each Dorista’s post every week even if the names were omitted. I must admit, however, to having writer envy after reading your post this week. My initial and only thought while reading it was, “I wish I could have written this.” You have such a unique take on Life but what makes it special is that you can put it down in words. Not so easy. You transformed a blah recipe week into a humorous and clever post and I salute you for that.

  25. Well, I’m not so sorry I missed these despite buying broccoli and zucchini and having every intention of making at least one of them. Your comment on bullion cubes made me laugh because I think the same thing!

    You have so many talents & I agree with Mary, writing is one of them!

  26. Well even if you found the soup a bit eh, your presentation is stunning. That alone would have me looking for seconds.

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