Stephanie Alexander’s career as a cook, restaurateur and author in Australia puts one in mind of Julia Child’s in America. Mrs. Alexander is regarded as one of the grandes dames of cooking in Australia and highly influential in developing Australian tastes in food and finesse in the kitchen. She began cooking professionally in 1966. Her restaurant in Melbourne, Stephanie’s Restaurant, ran for 21 years and is something of a legend, as is its owner. She has authored 14 books, one of which, The Cook’s Companion, has been described by one interviewer as ‘a kitchen Bible in over 400,000 homes’. (That engaging interview with Mrs. Alexander and Annie Smithers, another well-known Australian cook who began her career as an apprentice in Stephanie’s Restaurant, is here on YouTube.)
Mrs. Alexander regards French cuisine as perhaps the biggest influence on her cooking. She credits the Gallic style in the way she arranges food, in her preference for “a succession of small courses” and in the way many of her recipes will let “a single ingredient speak for itself”.
Those cooks who have not had the good fortune to encounter Stephanie Alexander’s recipes, may enjoy an introduction through this recipe for Kitchen Garden Soup with Little Bread Soufflés, adapted from one served in Stephanie’s Restaurant .
Kitchen Garden Soup with Little Bread Soufflés (for 4 people: To double for 8 people, use the ingredient amounts given in parentheses for the soup. The ingredient amounts for Little Bread Soufflés need not be doubled to increase the servings to 8.)
Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF. You will have the option of printing in smaller text size and without photos.
Timing Note: The soup may be made several hours in advance and reheated. The bread soufflé batter may be made in advance as well and quickly fried just before serving the soup.
- 1/3 cup of Chopped Onion (1/2 cup)
- 2 Rib of Celery, chopped (3 ribs)
- 1 Medium Potato, peeled and chopped (2 Medium Potatoes, or about 1/2 pound)
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 teaspoon of Fresh Thyme (2 teaspoons)
- 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons of Butter (5 Tablespoons)
- 3 and 1/4 cups of Chicken Bouillon (6 and 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 pound of Sugar Snap Peas (1 pound)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Ingredients for the Little Bread Soufflés: The ingredient amounts will be enough for either 4 or 8 servings.
- 1/2 cup of Fine Fresh Bread Crumbs
- 1 teaspoon of fresh Thyme
- 1 Garlic Clove
- 2 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 Tablespoons of Goose Fat, Duck Fat, or Vegetable Oil: Goose Fat is used to make the soufflés in the photos.
- a small Pot for blanching the sugar snap peas used to garnish the soup
- a small Bowl of ice water for quickly cooling the sugar snap peas to be used for garnishing the finished soup
- a heavy-bottomed Pot with a Lid
- a round of Waxed Paper cut to the diameter of the pot
- a Food Processor or Blender
- a large Bowl for the Soup
- a large Sieve or Strainer
- a small Bowl for the Bread Soufflé batter
- a wide, flat-bottomed Pan for frying the Bread Soufflés
- a Plate lined with a Paper Towel
1. From the total amount of sugar snap peas, remove 8 to garnish 4 servings (or 16 to garnish 8 servings). Place a small bowl of ice water nearby. Fill a small pot with water, add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda and a little salt and bring the water to a boil. Add the 8 (or 16) peas to be used as a garnish and blanch them for 30 seconds. Drain them and put them in the ice water. As soon as the peas are cool, remove them from the water and set them aside, wrapped up in a dish towel.
2. Make the bread soufflé mixture: In a blender or food processor, blend together the bread crumbs, thyme, and garlic. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the eggs. Set the mixture aside, covered, until the batter is fried into Little Bread Soufflés right before serving the soup. (See Step 8 below.)
3. Melt the butter in the pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, chopped potato, bay leaf and thyme. Cover the vegetables with the round of waxed paper, place the lid on the pot and cook the vegetables over medium low heat for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables have begun to soften and are just beginning to turn golden around the edges.
4. Remove the round of waxed paper. Add the chicken bouillon and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup for about 15 minutes more, or until the vegetables are completely tender.
5. Add the sugar snap peas and simmer for 3 minutes longer.
6. Remove the bay leaf and purée the soup in batches in a food processor or blender, transferring each puréed amount to a bowl. Wash out the pot and strain the soup purée back into it through a sieve or strainer, pressing down hard on the solids as the soup goes through the sieve.
7. Taste and season the soup with salt and pepper.
8. Just before serving, reheat the soup and make the Little Bread Soufflés: Heat the fat or oil in a large pan over moderate heat until it is hot but not smoking. Drop the Bread Soufflé batter by teaspoons into the fat and fry them for about 1 minute, total, turning them when the first side is golden and briefly cooking them on the second side. They will rapidly become puffed and golden. Drain briefly on a paper towel.
9. Divide the soup among bowls. Float a few little soufflés in each bowl of soup and garnish each one with a couple of the reserved, blanched sugar snap peas.
A Note: The First Course of the diplomatickitchen Menu: Easter Lunch is Kitchen Garden Soup with Little Bread Soufflés. The recipe is adapted from one for a soup that was served in Mrs. Alexander’s Melbourne restaurant, Stephanie’s Restaurant.
An Invitation: You are invited to request suggestions from the diplomatickitchen for your own menus for any occasion by clicking on the feature ‘Ask and Tell’ here or in the Menu at the top of the page. Do you have a menu concept with a gap or two that wants filling…or perhaps you are an expat looking for ways to adapt your recipes to what is available in your temporary home…maybe you are just looking for a new way to use a familiar ingredient or would like suggestions on how to adjust quantities of a recipe from the diplomatickitchen for smaller or larger groups…Replies will be published in ‘Ask and Tell’ or sent by email if you prefer.
© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2013