Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Blue soup

Poor Bridget.

Working for a now defunct chain of booksellers, I picked out a copy of Bridget Jones Diary from the rickety and appallingly dusty Picador stand. ‘Sounds like a laugh’, I thought and duly took the book home (contrary to popular belief, staff in book shops don’t get to read all day – though they should probably spend a little more time wielding the duster round the Picador stand, obviously).

For the uninitiated here’s a brief run-down. Bridget, working in publishing, 30-ish, single and a bit of mess, falls for her charming but slimy boss Daniel. After a few romantic mishaps and by over-coming her own pride and prejudices (yes, there are some rather direct links with Jane Austen), she falls for the right man, who seemed like the wrong man, and lives happily ever-after. Well, sort of.

Fielding had tapped into something many women my age were feeling. Like many of my ‘singleton’ friends, Bridget with her disastrous, hilarious self-obsessions made me, at the time, feel just a bit less pathetic. As she aired her calorie, nicotine and alcohol worries in her diary, mine was filling up with spookily similar, but no less hilarious, issues.

Though it may not be my favourite film, Bridget does have its glorious moments.

photo courtesy of the British Film Institute

There’s one scene in particular that makes me want to cry out to Poor Bridget. She’s cooking a birthday dinner, a wildly exotic and complicated menu designed to show off her ‘skills’ as a ‘cook’ to her dearest friends. Just when she thinks she’s got things under control, aided by generous gulps of ‘helpful’ wine and vodka, our heroine peers into the leek soup which has become…blue leek soup. Never, girls and boys, tie your leeks together with blue twine.

Cringing but giggling nonetheless, I’m happy to report that the film version IS as much fun as the book. Bridget’s become a favourite of my teenage step-sons who love her use of the word ‘f**kwittage’. And the knickers jokes. And the fight scene (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve watched it – if not go out and borrow it right now. Seriously. There’s nothing funnier than seeing Hugh Grant fighting like a girl. Brilliant).

Tom (one of her nearest and dearest): Well done Bridge, four hours of careful cooking and a feast of blue soup, omelette and marmalade. I think that deserves a toast, don't you? To Bridget, who cannot cook, but who we love…just as she is.

And don't you, just as she is?

Blue soup – for 4
Well, not quite. Leek and Two Potato Soup would be more accurate. The ‘blue’ here comes from the beautiful Purple Congo potato, in the form of blue-ish croutons added just before serving to preserve their unique colour and create a little textural difference. There’s not a lot to disguise in a recipe as simple as this, so make sure you use sparklingly fresh produce.

4 large leeks, white parts only
675g (1 ½ lbs) of organic, waxy-fleshed potatoes
2 tablespoons of butter or best olive oil
1.5 litres (6 cups) of water
Sea salt
Olive oil
250g (about ½ lb) of blue potatoes
1 bunch of chives, snipped finely

Wash the leeks well, then shake dry and finely chop. Quarter each waxy-fleshed potato lengthways and then thinly slice (if your potatoes are organic, don’t bother to peel them).

Preheat the oven to 220 C (425 F).

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add the leeks and waxy-fleshed potatoes, cover with a lid and sweat over a low heat for 10 minutes.

Add the water to the saucepan with 1 ½ teaspoons of sea salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover with a lid and cook until the potatoes fall apart (about 30-35 minutes).

Meanwhile, lightly oil a baking sheet. Slice the blue potatoes into quarters lengthways and slice into pieces just less that 1cm (1/3 inch) thick. Toss with just enough oil to coat lightly, arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet, carefully turn the potatoes and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes. When ready, sprinkle while still hot with a little salt.

Puree the soup in batches. If it’s too thick, add a little more water or milk or even cream to reach a consistency you’re happy with. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the blue potatoes followed by a showering of chives.

This is my entry to a food-blogging event called Food In Film, being held by the one and only Susan,
The Well Seasoned Cook.


kathryn said...

I saw the picture and my obsessive brain thought, oh how wonderful Lucy's put beetroot chunks on her soup.

However blue potato croutons are just (well almost) as fabulous and I love the look of your soup. It's a nice tweak on the leek and potato idea.

Lucy said...

How funny Kathryn! You ARE obsessed...with good reason I might add. The blue potatoes will happily dye your cutting surface a deep shade of purple, but are nowhere near as difficult to remove as beetroot stains! Glad you like the soup.

Susan said...

Lucy, that blue is astonishingly beautiful without the twine. : )
It would be very difficult for me to eat this lovely soup, for when the bowl is empty, there won't be any more to stare at. Certain colors just hypnotize me; this is one of them. I hope I can find these potatoes to stir up my own batch. Thanks for this fine, funny and fabulous entry.

Anh said...

Lucy, what an astonishing soup you have there. I love the blue color in your soup!

Magic Cochin said...

I love this homage to Bridge' - the blue soup scene had me in tears of laughter! And as I was once "working in publishing, 30-ish, single and a bit of mess" too, those publishing house scenes were excruciatingly funny!!! The weather's so s**t here this week I feel like getting hold of a Bridget Jones dvd and settling down on the sofa with a bowl of your Blue Soup.

And I'll raise a glass to Bridget ... who we love…just as she is.


Truffle said...

So vibrant. Really lovely.

Wendy said...

I almost wet myself laughing at that scene. Poor Bridget!
I've always wanted to do something special with those blue potatoes. This is it! ;)

Figs Olives Wine said...

That fight scene was BRILLIANT! I've got to rent the film and see it again - it's been too long. Hehehe. The soup looks great by the way! Such a good idea to use the potatoes as croutons.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I love your take on Bridget's blue soup!

Cynthia said...

Yep, I'm with your on the Bridget Jones' movies. They have their moments but it is that Colin Firth that my heart belongs to. I do love him :D

I would love to be able to try that purple potato. We don't get such fare in these parts.

Lucy said...

Thanks Susan, it's a colour that I find myself unable to walk away from too. I was impressed paticularly by the ones that looked as though they were tye-dyed! I hope you do manage to find them, though I sspect that in the States you can get Peruvian Blues - they're a even deeper shade of indigo than these ones.

Anh, it's almost an unreal shade, isn't it?

Oh Celia, do, go out and get a copy as soon as possible. Perfect weather for it - shame about your summer weather turning upside down so early. That line, 'Just as she is', always got me...

Thanks Truffle. Weird colouring, but it does work!

Me too Wendy, especially when she serves the 'caperberry gravy'. The other scene I love is when she asks Salman Rushdie where the toilets are. Nearly fall over everytime I see it!

Amanda, that fight scene is the most ridiculous but hilarious thing. Hugh Grant shows himself as a prime idiot and you should see my step-sons laughing about it. The croutons actually work quite well as a textural thing-y, something more toothsome against all that smoothness.

Thanks Patricia!

Cynthia, I love him as Mark Darcy as well. Almost as much as I loved him as the darkly brooding Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. He's a VERY handsome man! (though I promise NOT to fight you for him). The recipe would work well with sweet potatoes of some kind as well, though I've never seen a blue one. I should attempt to send you some by post!

Christina said...

This is the perfect post for Susan's Food in Film. Great work.

I laughed my well-endowed ass off at Bridget Jones' Diary, both the book and the film. The fight scene is so perfect, with "It's raining men" in the background, both Hugh and Colin stopping the fight to sing along with "Happy Birthday" to the poor kid who is supposed to be celebrating, and Bridge's friends just going bonkers over the fact that "it's a fight, it's a REAL fight!" Now I can make this soup, eat it, and laugh at the movie that replays itself in my head. Thanks for a very fun post.

Lucy said...

Christina, when they stopped to sing Happy Birthday I nearly wept with laughter. I'd forgotten about the soundtrack, particularly the Raining Men moment (which of course it suddenly IS for Bridget). A classic.

Nora B. said...

Hi Lucy, this is a lovely entry for Food in Film. I've never seen those potatoes before, thanks for teaching me something new. I'll have to look out for them.

Shaun said...

Lucy - This is a beautiful soup, truly inspired by a pretty cute film. I love the potatoes...I have never seen their likes at the farmers' market before.

TBC said...

Wow! That's a beautiful looking soup. I've never seen these potatoes before.
What a lovely pic!

Lucy said...

Nora, that colour lingers in your mind for a long time, so deep is it's shade of indigo. Glad you like the idea!

Shaun, aren't you lovely? Keep your eyes peeled - they'll blow you away.

Hi TBC, thanks. Do have a look for them when you next get a chance - the colour will fade a little on cooking, but baked, they seem to retain much of their vibrancy.

Y said...

What a great idea, making blue soup! :) I love congo potatoes too, but they usually lose their lovely blue colour when you cook them -ie. last time I tried making mash with them, I ended up with a purple-grey concoction!

Lucy said...

Hi Y, yeah, I did the same thing with gnocchi once...little grey lumps sitting in a pale grey cream sauce...not exactly what I'd planned!