Saturday, May 15, 2010

The French Laundry: Cream of Walnut Soup

I'm back!!! And I'm so excited to share with you all my very first cooking experience from The French Laundry Cookbook!

Cream of Walnut Soup
Cream of Walnut Soup

What you'll need:

First, I toasted the walnuts for 5 minutes over medium heat and chopped them.
cream of walnut-1

Then, I made the poaching liquid by boiling the wine and then adding water and sugar and returning it to boil.
I then added the lemon squeeze after removing it from heat.
I used 1/3 of the poaching liquid ingredients for this because I didn't want to have any leftovers after.
It yielded about 2 cups which is exactly all that's needed to puree the pears later.

For the walnut cream, I combined the walnuts, cream, milk, scraped vanilla beans (including the pod) in a medium saucepan and brought it to simmer.
Then, I reduced the heat to just below simmer and cooked it for 40 minutes.
This process is supposed to let the flavors infuse!

The walnut cream mix should look like this.

The walnut mixture will then need to be strained.
The book says discarding the walnut and vanilla pod after this but I saved it instead! You'll see later why. Also, be sure to wash your strainer at this point, you're gonna need it again!

I then put the bowl on top of a saucepan with simmering water to keep it hot while I make the pureed pears.

For the pear puree, I peeled, cored and cut the pear in 8 wedges and combined it with the poaching liquid.
I simmered it for 30 minutes until the pears are soft and a knife easily cut through it.
The book says this only takes 15 minutes but for some reason, mine took 30!!
No worries though. The extra minutes was a perfect excuse for me to browse through InStyle's June mag and wondered why Salma Hayek's head is disproportionately bigger than her body!

Btw, the parchment paper cover that the book recommends was completely useless for me. It kept on slipping inside the saucepan.

Then, I transfered the pear puree into a blender and pureed it to my heart's content!

While the blender is running, add the walnut cream a cup at a time. The book stresses out that it's important to have the walnut cream hot or otherwise, the soup will break. I don't actually know how a soup could possibly break but I didn't want to find out for myself either so I followed this without question.

The blended mixture will then need to be strained.
Cream of Walnut Soup

As an experiment, I served it three ways:
A) Walnut soup + a few drops of walnut oil, exactly as the book recommends
B) Just the soup, no walnut oil
C) Soup + a teaspoon of the walnut cream mix that I saved earlier
cream of walnut

...And the verdict: the hubz loved (B) with just the soup and me (C) the soup + walnut mix!

I asked him to guess the ingredients and he couldn't tell that there's a walnut or a pear in it.
I guess that means that my 40-minute flavor infusion was a success!
It was so good we finished all 6 shotglasses just between us!

Overall, ain't bad for my very first attempt on anything gourmet!

Time: 2 hours. It could have been faster but I was repeating these words from Chef Keller to myself, "Cooking is not about convenience, and it's not about shortcuts. Take your time. Move slowly and deliberately, and with great attention."

Difficulty: Very easy! Take that from someone who's most complicated soup creation thus far is opening a can of Campbell's and microwaving it for a few minutes.

Calories: About 150 if you serve it in a shotglass like I did here which makes about 16 servings. The soup is very rich but so worth it every calorie! Heck, even if this is 1,000 calories, I'd still have it!

Total Cost: $11.70. Probably even less if you skip the walnut oil and use a really cheap wine like Charles Shaw Sauvignon Blanc from Trader Joe's.

Will I do this recipe again? Definitely YES! The next time I do, it'll even be so much easier coz I won't need to hold the saucepan on one hand and the camera on the other all while hoping that the strainer does not fall over and make a big mess on the kitchen floor! I will however cut on the sugar a teeny wee bit and see how that goes...

Ingredients used:
Pear and lemon from the Farmer's Market
Organic cream, organic milk and vanilla stick from Whole Foods.
Walnuts from a local grocer and it's MN made!
Terra Andinna Sauv Blanc (but Kim Crawford is recommended)

Let me know if you want my detailed notes on this, I'd be happy to share it!


  1. glad to see you back! you have a great kitchen. mine here at the apartment, it's so outdated, i don't cook as much anymore. that's a cute pic of your hubby. i notice he doesn't smile on pics very often hehe, he must really like the soup. Looks like you did a great job, even with the presentation.

  2. Ooh great review Grace! I love the flavor combination but the husband is allergic to Walnut :(. Hmm I wonder if cashew would work...

  3. Grace!! welcome back to blogging. I really admire anyone who can cook, i am pretty rubbish when it comes to cooking so i try to avoid the kitchen area :)
    I like how everything is so neat & organized.
    Happy Sunday! x

  4. Hi, G!

    Mmmmm! That looks very tasty to me. :) The only thing pureed or blended that I serve are fruit milk shakes and so this is something nice to try too. Let´s see if I can do this. ;)

    I´ve missed you, it´s been so long and I´m glad that you´re back!

    PS: I´ve been to Paris na and back last month. It was gloomy while we were there but we enjoyed the trip.

    PPS: I´m commenting from by Blogger account. ;)



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