Sunday, November 29, 2015

French Potage Parmentier (Potato Soup) with Cilantro Pistou and Curried Croutons for a Cook the Books / Food 'N Flix Crossover: "The Hundred-Foot Journey"

When I saw that Camilla of Culinary Adventures of Camilla had selected The Hundred-Foot Journey as the Food 'N Flix movie for November (See her announcement post here) and I had my hosting turn for Cook the Books scheduled for October/November (see my announcement post here), I knew I had to pick the novel behind the movie by Richard C. Morais and see if we could do an optional crossover event for those who love to both watch foodie movies and read foodie books. Camilla was game, so now it was just a point of watching the movie again and finally getting around to reading the book. ;-)

Both the book and film follow the same story line of Hassan Haji and his family, who leave India after a family tragedy and end up settling in the small village of Lumière, France. They open a noisy family-style Indian restaurant just 100-feet across the road from the fancy and renowned restaurant of Madame Mallory. The 100-feet is at first a huge cultural divide between the Haji family and the prickly Mme. Mallory, but it inspires Hassan to learn French cooking before making his way to Paris to seek his success as a chef. The execution of the movie and book differ quite a bit from each other as is common in film adaptations.

I have to say that is this is one of those handful of exceptions where I actually prefer the movie to the book. Part of that is probably due to the fact that I saw it first, combined with Helen Mirren whom I adore, and I could love her Mme. Mallory, even when she is being mean (because she is Helen *freakin'* Mirren) and not so much the book version. Also, the book drug for me at times and the movie just brought everything to life in a more colorful way. Both the book and the movie did provide plenty of food inspiration, both Indian and French cuisines. I had originally planned to do two separate posts/dishes, one French and one Indian, but as usual the month got away and so I am putting them together into one French-Indian fusion dish, inspired by both the movie and the book.

For a somewhat loosely-inspired dish, based mainly on shortening the distance between the French & Indian cuisines featured, I decided to take a French classic soup that I happen to love, Potage Parmentier (potato leek soup), using a Jacques Pépin recipe and then bring some Indian-inspired flavor to the dish by topping my soup with some curried naan bread croutons and a pleasantly-spicy pistou (or pesto) of cilantro and cashews.

Potato Leek Soup 
Adapted from Jacques Pépin via the New York Times
(Serves 4-6)
1 large leek (about 8 oz)  
2 tablespoons olive oil  
1 onion (6 oz), peeled and sliced  
6 cups chicken stock  (I used veggie broth)
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces (I used Yukon Gold potatoes) 
salt to taste, depending on the saltiness of the stock  
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
Stovetop Naan Bread Croutons, for garnish (optional--see recipe below)
Cilantro Pistou, for garnish (optional--see recipe below)

Trim the leek to remove the root and any damaged outer leaves, but leave the remainder of the leaves intact. Split the leek in half lengthwise, and cut it into 1/4-inch pieces. Clean the leek by immersing the pieces in a bowl filled with cold water. Lift the pieces from the water and place them in a sieve.

Heat the oil in a pot. When hot, add the leek and onion, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they soften and begin to brown lightly. Add the stock, potatoes, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Boil for about 30 to 40 minutes, until tender.

Strain off most of the juices and reserve them. Add the solids with a little of the juice to the bowl of a food processor and process briefly, just until pureed. (If too much juice is added to the processor bowl, the mixture will become too foamy.) Mix the puree with the reserved juices. You should have about 7 cups. (I added about 2/3 of the solids with a little of the broth to the food processor and left some of the solid pieces for texture.)

The hot soup can be served immediately, with croutons and pistol if desired.

Stove Top Curried Croutons
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

1-2 pieces naan bread or bread of choice
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 heaping teaspoons of curry powder of choice
salt and pepper to taste

Cut bread into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat.

Mix olive oil, curry powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Place bread pieces in bowl and toss in curried oil until evenly covered. 

Add croutons to heated pan and cook, tossing, until crisped and lightly browned on both sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to cool. Serve with soup. 

Cilantro Pistou
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

1 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro, leaves and small stems
1 green chili pepper (serrano or jalapeño
1 Tbsp peeled and finely grated ginger
1 Tbsp garlic, finely minced
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/3 cup toasted, unsalted cashews or pistachios
3 Tbsp lime juice, or to taste
1/3 cup olive oil + more as needed to thin pesto
salt and black pepper to taste

Place cilantro, chili, ginger, garlic, garam masala, cumin, and peanuts in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the lime juice and 1/3 cup of the olive oil and process until desired consistency, adding more olive oil as needed. Taste and add salt, black pepper and extra lime juice as desired.      

Notes/Results: The soup is simple and good but takes on a whole new life with the spicy and zippy pistou and the savory crisp naan croutons. Thick, hearty, and if you use a veggie stock, a vegan dish that really hits the spot. The naan bread croutons, so crispy and flavorful, were my favorite part of the dish and practically addicting. I think they will become a part of my soup and salad repertoire. My kitchen smelled fabulous, first from the leeks, onion, and potatoes as the soup simmered, then from the cilantro and lime of the pesto, and finally the curried croutons. I will happily make all three components again. 

In addition to Food 'N Flix and Cook the Books, I am linking this soup to I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck week--the chance to make recipes from Ellie Krieger or any of our previous IHCC chefs like Jacques Pépin.

Tomorrow, Nov. 30th is the deadline for this Food 'N Flix and Cook the Books crossover event. If you missed this round of either/both events, consider joining us for December's Food 'N Flix pick: The Jane Austen Book Club, hosted by Coffee & Casseroles and/or the Cook the Books December/January pick: A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White, hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats. 

Camilla will be rounding up the joint or movie only entries on her blog and I will be rounding up the joint or book only entries at the Cook the Books site shortly after the deadline, so make sure to stop by both roundups to see what dishes that our creative friends were inspired to make.  


  1. That is a delicious looking bowl of soup. I like it how you served the soup with your curry naan crouton and the cilantro pistou. Such a satisfying meal! I have enjoyed watching the movie a while back. But have not read the book, did not realize there's a book behind the movie!

  2. I have not seen the movie or read the book, but hope to do both in the near future. This soup sounds so good!

  3. I always love soup. Your bowl of soup is so inviting!

  4. That looks like it would warm anyone up on these chilly days. Love the idea of the naan bread.

  5. Thanks so much for this double fun movie/book experience. Funny we felt the same way. And I love your fusion dish, great soup with flavorful toppings!

  6. Your soup with the naan croutons looks perfect!! Though I never tried it but I'm already imagining how piping hot and delicious it is. I will try this dish soon. I love the movie too!!

  7. Soup is one of my favorite kings, what an array you have represented here, wow! Love that potato leek one though.
    I like Helen Mirren too! She is a great actress.

  8. Sounds like this soup with the naan croutons was meant to be! It looks yummy :)

  9. What a perfect fusion dish for the book/film, classic French potato soup off-set with exotic naan croutons and that spicy green pistou. Love it.

  10. A perfect fusion of movie and book and a perfect fusion of French and Indian in this wonderful sounding soup.

  11. What a wonderful fusion of flavours in this dish. The naan looks particularly enticing.

  12. Love your choice of recipe and the curried croutons are a lovely touch. I had to laugh when I read that your preference between book and movie was exactly the opposite of mine. And as always I am intrigued in reading a different perspective from mine. Thanks again for hosting.

  13. I loved that movie and I share your adoration of Helen. Looks like a delicious soup. I love reading books then watching movies but this Food and Flix looks fun too. If only I could spend all my time in cooking groups. Look forward to see what you make from Heart and Soul.

  14. The soup & the naan both sounds lovely! I, too, preferred the movie and I almost always like the book better!

  15. I love this fusion dish. Kudos for taking a classic and "spicing" it up. (Loved the Indian inspired Beef Bourginon that Wendy did, too.) Thank you so much for hosting this round, Deb.

  16. well, cilantro adds a great note to any dish. nice!

  17. Learned a few things while reading your post. First, I'm reminded that I need to watch this movie and secondly, naan croutons. Where have they been all my life? They look all flaky and seasoned and delicious. Awesome fusion dish, Deb!

  18. I have made this one and you are right - good stuff!!

    I am so dying to see that movie. And read the book.


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