The Queen’s Soup

Actually, this post should be called Potage à la Reine, or even better Koninginnensoep. Before looking at the details, let’s first talk about Dutch Royalty.

The first Dutch Queen (Koningin) was Wilhelmina who reigned from 1898 until 1948. She was succeeded by Queen Juliana and later Queen Beatrix. Their birthdays were always a reason for festivities with lots of food (and lots of beer nowadays). One of the favourite dishes was a soup called Koninginnensoep: a rich, creamy chicken soup with carrots and garden peas. Not very refined, but perfect for the occasion.

The recipe of this soup goes back to France, to chef François Pierre de La Varenne (1618-1678). He is probably the first chef who documented and prepared Potage à la Reine. The soup is made with two kinds of stock (one made with almonds, the other one with partridge or capon), bread, lemon and it is garnished with pomegranate and pistachios. It was prepared in the honour of Queen Marguerite de Navarre.

The Dutch Koninginnensoep is a simplified version of the Potage à la Reine. Some recipes suggest replacing the bread with rice; most suggest making a roux and adding eggs and cream to thicken the soup. The pomegranate is replaced by carrot and the pistachios by garden peas. A practical cheap, Dutch approach…

Enough details, let’s start preparing our version of this traditional soup. After all, today, April 27th, we’re celebrating the King’s birthday! Hurray!

What You Need

  • For the stock
    • Organic Chicken (bones and meat)
    • Carrot
    • Leek
    • Onion
    • Bouquet Garni (Thyme, Parsley, Bay Leaf)
    • Mace (small piece)
    • Olive Oil
  • Flour
  • Almond Flour
  • Butter
  • One Egg Yolk
  • Cream
  • White Pepper
  • Carrot
  • Green peas

What You Do

Gently fry the sliced leek, the chopped carrot and the chopped onion in olive oil. After a few minutes add the chicken. Leave for a few minutes. Add cold water, the bouquet garni, the mace and a piece of carrot. Leave to simmer for one or two hours. Pass through a sieve. Cool the stock and remove the fat. You could do this the day before. Remove the skin and bones from the meat and make cubes the size of garden peas. Same for the carrot. Set aside. 
Combine 30 grams of flour with 10 gram of almond flour and 30 grams of butter (depending on the amount of stock, these quantities are for one liter), make a roux and thicken the soup. Leave on low heat for 60 minutes.
Beat the egg yolk, add cream, mix some more. Add the warm soup to the liquid, one spoon at a time. This is known as marrying the soup and the eggs. When done, add the chicken and leave on low heat for 10 minutes. Stir gently. Add white pepper. In parallel quickly cook the garden peas (one minute will be fine) and warm the carrot cubes.

Garnish the soup with carrot and garden peas.

The Queen's Soup ©cadwu
The Queen’s Soup ©cadwu

Chicken a la Carolus Battus

In the year 1593

The history of food is interesting for a number of reasons. Following old recipes provides you with the opportunity to discover new combinations, techniques and new flavors, or better said, forgotten combinations, techniques and flavors.
The University of Amsterdam is home to the Special Collections, the material heritage of the University. One of the collections is related to recipes, cookbooks, books on etiquette, nutrition, food et cetera. The oldest cookbook is Eenen seer schoonen ende excelenten Cocboeck, inhoudende alderley wel geexperimenteerde cokagien, van ghebraet, ghesoden, Pasteyen, Taerten, toerten, Vlaeijen, Saussen, Soppen, ende dier-gelijcke: Oock diversche Confeyturen ende Drancken, etc. by Carel Baten (Carolus Battus) published in 1593. The book contains some 300 recipes for a range of food and drink. It was published as an annex to his Medecijn Boec, after all he was a medical doctor.

In 2018 Onno and Charlotte Kleyn published Luilekkerland; a great book on 400 years of cooking in the Netherlands. They must have spent months at the Special Collections going through various cookbooks and manuscripts with recipes. Many thanks for creating ‘a magical mystery tour’ through the kitchens of the past.
In the book they describe one of the recipes of Carolus Battus: een sause op eenen gesoden capoen. Or in English: poached Capon with sauce.
The short version: make a poaching liquid with carrot, leek, celeriac and onion. Add the capon and poach it until it’s done. In parallel combine old breadcrumbs with white almonds, white wine, ginger powder and sugar. Create a sauce by gently warming the mixture with some of the cooking liquid and serve.

Capon is very expensive, so like Onno and Charlotte we go for chicken. Our recipe is for 2 chicken thighs, but we could also imagine making a roulade and then serving a slice of chicken roulade with the sauce as a starter.
The surprise is in the sauce: the combination of bread, ginger and almonds is tasty and complex. The sauce may appear to be filming and fat, but actually it’s not. The texture of the sauce is interesting as well: the bread will make the sauce a bit porridge like and the crushed almonds prevent the sauce from being smooth.
Our version of the recipe is a bit closer to 2018: we’re not the biggest fans of poaching and we don’t see the need for sugar. Plus why use powder if you can get fresh ginger?

Wine Pairing

Best is to go for a white wine with a touch of sweetness, for instance a Gewurztraminer. This will combine very well with the somewhat unusual flavors in the dish. If you go for a glass of red wine, then we would suggest a pinot noir, nice and earthy.

What you need

  • 2 chicken thighs
  • Chicken stock and optional
    • Leek
    • Carrots
    • Celeriac
    • Onions
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • 15 grams of white Almonds
  • 1 – 2 cm of Fresh ginger
  • 1 dl of Dry white wine
  • Slice of toasted Bread

What you do

If your chicken stock needs a boost, then add the vegetables and let simmer for 15 minutes or so. In a small skillet heat the butter and olive oil. Fry the chicken until nearly done. In parallel blender the almonds and the toasted bread. Grate the ginger. Add the white wine and the ginger to the mixture and blender. Add some stock and blender for a few seconds. Transfer the mixture to a pan and warm over medium heat. It requires attention, so keep an eye on the sauce and stir every minute or so. The sauce will thicken so you will probably need to add more stock. Transfer the chicken to a warm oven and let rest. Deglaze the pan with some stock and add this liquid to the sauce. Stir well. Now it’s time to taste. Remember the taste is new, so take your time. Almonds? Bread? Hint of acidity? Ginger? Chicken? Overall? Serve the chicken with the sauce.
We enjoyed the chicken as a main course with some Brussels sprouts, olive oil and nutmeg.

Londonderry Soup

A Long Time Ago

Sunday afternoon, my mother in the kitchen, asking us what we would like to eat as a starter. Would we like vegetable soup with broken vermicelli or Londonderry soup? My favourite! Londonderry soup! Monday meant school but Sunday was all about Londonderry Soup!
My mother seemed less keen to prepare Londonderry soup because, depending on the chili and the curry, it could be too spicy to her taste. The vegetable soup was more predictable.
As always in life, things change. I moved to another city, she became less interested in cooking and so here we are today: I haven’t tasted the soup for years. Time to start cooking.
The Londonderry soup I tasted as a child seems to be a Dutch and Belgium phenomenon. And a rather undefined one. Some use veal stock, others chicken. Some add mushrooms, others rice. Also used are chili, sambal, cayenne pepper, parsley, egg, meat balls et cetera. And to make things even more confusing, in the UK it’s known as a pea soup. Which is not at all what my mother used to prepare. Plus no-one seems to know what the origin is of the name.
So we decided to follow the recipe my mother included in her ‘kookschrift’, which is a notebook with recipes she learned as a young woman.

What You Need

  • Light Stock (Veal or Chicken)
  • A Shallot
  • Curry
  • Chili
  • Equal amount of Flower and Butter
  • Button Mushrooms
  • Single Cream

What You Do

Start by glazing the chopped shallot in butter. Add the chili (my mother used 4 small slices, but feel free to use more!) and the curry. The curry should be spicy and powerful. Make sure the curry is fried, allowing for the flavors to develop. Now add the flour and start making a roux. Add the warm stock, step by step, take your time, and create the soup. Leave it for 15 minutes to integrate. In parallel gently fry the very small mushrooms (so called button mushrooms). Pass the soup through a sieve. Use a spoon to get the flavors of the shallot and the chili. The soup should be completely smooth.
Now things become unclear in my mother’s recipe. She suggests adding white wine just before serving (which will add acidity plus the taste of alcohol which is not great) or single milk or cream. Milk will only weaken the taste of the curry. Cream however will give a velvety feeling on your lips when tasting the soup, which is great in combination with the spicy curry. So we added a touch of single cream, left the soup for 5 minutes on low heat, allowing for the cream to cook. Just before serving add the gently colored button mushrooms.

Thanks Mum!