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      RECIPE TITLE "Joël Robuchon's Creamy White Bean Soup (Créme de Cocos Blancs Joël Robuchon) "
    recipe excerpted from The Paris Cookbook Copyright © by Patricia Wells.

    ... more great recipes from Patricia Wells on our GREAT CHEFS page!

    yields12 Demitasse Servings time--- difficultyeasy to moderate

    During the last years of his chiefdom on the rue de Longchamp, Joël Robuchon served this rich, soul-warming white bean cream as part of his all-truffle menu. With a faintly smoky flavor and that creamy richness of good white beans, this should be served in small portions. I like to serve it as a small first course, which can be drunk from a simple white demitasse cup. The soup can be anointed with finely minced truffles or with a drizzling of hazelnut oil. I only recently learned that fresh white beans, such as the French cocos blancs, which can be found from May to September, can easily be frozen. So when you find the beans in your farmers' market, freeze them for one of those cool winter days when bean soup is all that will do!


    2 pounds fresh small white (navy) beans or red (cranberry) beans in the pod, shelled; or 1 pound dried small white beans (such as cannellini, Great Northern, or marrow beans), soaked (see Note) carrots, peeled and halved
    1 onion, peeled and stuck with a clove
    4 cloves garlic: 3 peeled, 1 very finely minced
    1 bouquet garni: several sprigs of parsley and thyme, and several bay leaves, tied together with cotton string
    3 ounces smoked bacon, in one piece
    Sea salt
    2 cups Homemade Chicken Stock (page 297)
    1 cup heavy cream
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    Freshly ground white pepper
    1 small fresh black truffle (about 1 ounce), cleaned and minced (optional); or several teaspoons best-quality hazelnut or pistachio oil(optional)

    Equipment: A 6-quart stockpot; a food processor; a food mill; 12 demitasse cups or other very small bowls.


    1. In a 6-quart stockpot, combine the fresh or soaked dried beans with the carrots, onion, garlic cloves, bouquet garni, bacon, and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and cover the pot. Simmer gently over low heat until the beans are very tender, about 30 minutes for fresh beans, 1 to 1 1/2 hours for dried beans. (The cooking time will vary according to the freshness of the beans.) Add additional stock or water if necessary.
    2. Drain the beans. Remove and discard the carrot, onion, garlic, bouquet garni, and bacon. Transfer the beans to a food processor and purée. Pass the purée through the finest grid of a food mill. (The soup can be prepared ahead of time up to this point. Cool and refrigerate.)
    3. At serving time, reheat the purée. Add the chicken stock and cream, stir to blend, and bring just to a simmer. Stir in the butter and the minced garlic. Add sea salt and white pepper to taste. Serve piping hot, in very small warmed soup bowls or in demitasse cups. Sprinkle with minced truffles or drizzle with hazelnut oil, if desired.

    NOTE: To prepare dried beans, rinse them, picking them over to remove any pebbles. Place the beans in a large saucepan. Cover with boiling water by 2 inches. Cover and let stand until the beans swell to at least twice their size and have absorbed most of the liquid, about 1 hour. Drain the beans in a colander, discarding the soaking liquid. Proceed with the recipe.

    This is delicious with a floral white, such as a Condrieu or a Viognier from Domaine les Gouberts.

    The Paris Cookbook. Copyright © by Patricia Wells.

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    To dispense with a puzzlement right away--though named Vegetable Harvest, Patricia Wells's marvelous 190-plus recipe collection doesn't center on those edibles exclusively. Rather, it offers a well-rounded dish selection that puts them to brilliant use, often as supporting players (except, of course, in chapters titled "Vegetables" and "Potatoes"). This bit of culinary license shouldn't discourage anyone from buying the book, whose recipes, such as Baby Squid Salad with Garlic, Olives, Tomatoes and Parsley; Penne with Fava Beans, Basil Puree, and Parmesan; and Lamb Couscous with Chickpeas and Zucchini, exemplify all that's remarkable about Wells's approach to modern French cooking. Emphasizing simplicity, ingredient freshness and, yes, ease of preparation, the dishes--including breads and desserts like Lemon and Rosemary Flatbread and Almond Buttermilk Sorbet--will delight any cook who prizes direct yet brilliantly orchestrated flavor. In addition to wine advice, Wells also offers a pantry chapter including sauce and vinaigrette recipes--Creamy Lemon-Chive Dressing is one--nearly worth owning the book for. In works including The Provence Cookbook and Bistro Cooking, Wells brought French cooking to the American kitchen in a way both authentic and relaxed. Vegetable Harvest furthers that approach spectacularly. --Arthur Boehm Click here to buy
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    You Will Never Cook The Same Way Again.
    # Knowing when to season and how
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    # Allowing meats and poultry to rest so they release maximum flavor
    # The simple art of straining a sauce for a refined condensed flavor
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