Friday, January 14, 2011

Of the Importance of Parsley in Sauces and Soups

Garden Chervil from Thomé Flora von Deutschlan...Image via Wikipedia

One person in my family, very dear to me, hates parsley - this post therefore is not for him!

Unless you're absolutely allergic to the idea of using parsley, here are some suggestions for parsley-based sauces and soups.

One of the most famous one is the Italian Salsa Verde or Green Sauce, a superb parsley-based sauce that accompanies perfectly boiled meat or fish - and there are of course French and German versions as well. Then in Lebanese cuisine, parsley is, as everybody knows, an essential ingredient in Tabbouleh or bulgur salad (along with mint, of course).

You can find these recipes all over the place on Internet or in a library.

But what I want to do here is to tell you about an interesting MEDIEVAL GREEN SAUCE of my own. Another example of serendipity in cooking!

I found my inspiration in French cookbooks on medieval cooking, and if you look at the originals you'd be amazed how our ancestors had neat ways of making sauces for their meat and fish. And naturally, parsley entered in nearly all of them. Unfortunately other ingredients did too and they're hard to find in modern markets. So I ended up with a parsley-based sauce that I use on all sorts of meat and fish. Most recently, I poured it over cold, thin slices of roast turkey (cooked the day before) and served it at room temperature, with extra sauce in a gravy boat. It was a real success with my friends! Of course, the same meat could have been served hot, with the sauce warmed just so, taking care NOT to boil it or it loses all its flavour!

- 2 thick slices of bread, white or whole meal is fine but the bread should be tasty!
- 1 small glass of dry white wine (alternatively: a tablespoon of white vinegar but it's less refined); you can add a tablespoon of Porto or Madeira if
- 1/2 cup of consommé or meat broth (if you make the sauce to accompany meat; use fish broth to accompany fish). You can use Knorr-type cubes or powder, but make sure you put enough in: you shouldn't need to use salt in this recipe.
- A VERY large bunch of parsley: the more, the better
- one spoonful olive oil
- Pepper to taste (I always put it in abundantly - it exalts flavours)


It's really simple, no cooking required.

Soak the bread in water and squeeze it dry. Put all the ingredients in a blender and chop up fine and voilà, it's done!

Soups all gain by having a sprinkling of parsley on them, but then, for real parsley lovers, there's... the GREEN SOUP!
It's just loaded with parsley - literally, two handfuls! Btw, it's not medieval, and it is inspired by the Belgian chervil soup. Since I live in Rome and there's no chervil (cerfeuil in French) here, I use Italian parsley. You know what I mean: the flat kind.

Ingredients for 4 persons
1 big potato
1 small carrot
2 celery branches (be careful to remove the strings!)
1 big white onion
1 leek (white part only)
Bouillon cube to taste
Fresh parsley: at least 2 handfuls (remove most of the thick stems, try only using the leaves)

Peel and cube the vegetables. Throw them in pot, cover with water, add bouillon cube and bring to boil with the lid on - then simmer covered, until the vegetables are soft and ready to be puréed in your mixer, or whatever you use to purée your stuff.

As you finish puréing (and make sure it's turned creamy on you) add the parsley and give it another swirl until the parsley is finely chopped and your soup, originally white, has turned green.

Don't cook anymore: just warm up and serve, so that the fresh taste of parsley is preserved!

Post-scriptum: The illustration I used is chervil...not parsley! Sorry if I played a trick on you, but it's such a pretty illustration, don't you think?


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