Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup

We’re going savoury today with the creamiest, crème de la crème of French soups.
Known as Crème Dubarry or Velouté du Barry, Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup is a simple French gourmet classic. For a soup, it also has a deliciously hot royal romance behind it, which simmered away between Versailles and Paris in the 18th century.

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup

Why Dubarry – or Du Barry?

Turning to my French Larousse dictionary, anything called ‘Du Barry‘ in French cooking contains cauliflower – from a simple salad to the most famous Crème Dubarry, often served on winter menus in chic Parisian restaurants.

Why Dubarry? It’s a smooth, rich cauliflower cream soup or silky velouté that gets its name from the Comtesse du Barrywho adored the humble winter chou-fleur.

Trust the French to bring cauliflower and a hungry royal love affair together!

Comtesse Du Barry

Who was the Comtesse du Barry?

The Comtesse du Barry was the last mistress and favourite of King Louis XV. (Not to be confused with the chain of French boutiques, Comtesse du Barry, known in and around Paris for its gourmet tinned meals for those who would rather have foie gras or truffles on toast than baked beans.)

The Countess was renowned for her beauty, her blond curls, her blue eyes, her love for luxury – and her way of wrapping her little finger around aristocratic, influential men.

Antoine and I were intrigued to visit part of the residence given to her by Louis XV, where she stayed in Louveciennes in Les Yvelines, just 10km west of Paris. Alas, the domaine is now private and not open to the public – but once a year for just a couple of hours, guided visits are arranged in May by the Office de Tourisme de Boucles de Seine.  As photos were not permitted inside the residence, my photos are restricted to the lush grounds.

Louveciennes was host to painters such as Madame Vigée Le Brun (who painted 3 portraits of Madame du Barry) and the Impressionists. Camille Pissaro also later lived here and Sisley painted many landscapes, which shows not that much has changed outside her residence. It’s another lovely walk in the area, as part of the 4 Impressionist Walks by the Seine (see my post on the Renoir walk from Chatou to Carrières-sur-Seine).

Outside Madame du Barry’s residence was the enormous pipe – still camouflaged today – in the lush countryside. Apparently the noise of the water from the pipes was rather distressing for Madame; it transported water to the Versailles fountains from the Seine river via the Machine du Marly, an extremely incredible feat of engineering to cope with Louis XIV’s luxurious tastes for the palace.

Madame du Barry to Countess

The Countess wasn’t always a countess. Raised as Jeanne Bécu in a convent (since her mother had a dangerous liaison with a Franciscan monk), she then worked her way up from hairdresser to haberdashery in Paris. It was the wealthy, influential casino owner, Jean-Baptiste du Barry that changed her direction as Mademoiselle.

Jeanne became his mistress, and became mistress to others too in royal circles – right up to Louis XV. One problem: she wasn’t appreciated as being a non-aristocrat in French society and the king couldn’t see her unless she had a title. The King solved this by ensuring her marriage to Du Barry’s brother, the Count Guillaume du Barry in 1768, giving her title of Countess – even if she was and is still referred to as Madame.

After King Louis XV’s death in 1774, Madame du Barry wasn’t permitted to stay in the court (Queen Marie-Antoinette thought of her as rather common – read vulgar) and so she stayed here, continuing to lavishly entertain in her particularly impressive oak-panelled dining room.

Countess Amorous Royal Chocolate Drinks

It was apparently under this enormous tilleul or lime tree that the elderly King Louis XV and young Madame du Barry would sip chocolat together in Louveciennes, not far from Versailles. Although the luxury of chocolate (as a drink) was brought to the French court via Louis XIII then Louis XIV, it was Louis XV that was reputed to have loved chocolate the most.

Considered an aphrodisiac drink, the king prepared his own love potion chocolate drink in his appartments in Versailles, adding an egg yolk to his chocolate recipe to ensure its extra velvety, rich texture – see the recipe here, via Versailles Palace.

Dubarry French Cauliflower Cream

Dubarry Cream of Cauliflower

Keeping with rich, velvety textures, Countess du Barry’s chef, Louis Signot, created a soup with Jeanne’s favourite vegetable. It was so simple yet sophisticated enough for royal approval. It’s not clear what is the original recipe but looking around in cookbooks (in vain), French gourmet dictionaries, online, and even from French recipe booklets received from our local market there are two versions of Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup.

One is based on milk, cream and potatoes; the other Crème Dubarry is based on a white roux (butter and flour) with added egg yolks and cream at the end of cooking. Seen as Louis XV’s chocolate potions included egg yolks, I’m guessing the King cracked for the latter version so I’m sticking with this. The vegetable market’s booklet recipe, however, used a whopping 6 egg yolks. Instead I developed the recipe as follows, as it’s silky enough without being too overwhelmingly rich to start off a meal.

How to Prepare Cauliflower Cream Soup

This is the first time I’ve made a white roux for a soup. Normally I wouldn’t add flour to soup and use a potato to thicken it instead. However, for the sake of authenticity with French recipes, let’s make that roux by adding butter, gently cooking the leeks and adding the flour to make a paste then stir in the stock and tiny cauliflower florets.

All of the bitter stalk is discarded. Small, digestible florets are used, cleaned first in a mixture of water with a dash of vinegar. Don’t forget to keep the smallest florets aside for the garniture. Once mixed or blended using a stick blender or ‘giraffe‘ (I love how some of my French friends call it this!), create the liaison (pun totally intended).  A mix of the egg yolks and cream are gradually blended into the soup by adding some of the soup liquid to the cream, then adding the whole lot to create that rich, velvety Dubarry cream.

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup Garniture

The garniture for serving Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup is just as important as the cream itself, it appears. There are 2 simple classic garnitures: finely chopped chervil and tiny cauliflower florets (pre-cooked à l’anglaise – English-style in boiling water). That’s it. My personal preference is not to cook the cauliflower garniture at all. Just sprinkle with the smallest of florets and the heat of the soup and the raw crudité-style cauliflower adds a magnificent crunch! I also finely grate a cauliflower floret on top of the soup too.

Seared scallops are another possibility. If you’ve seen my recipe for Curried Cauliflower soup, I got the idea of adding seared scallops when tasting wine under January hailstones in Clos Veogeot at the annual Burgundy wine festival, la fête de Saint Vincent. So add scallops if you fancy – but for royalty, the good old classic cauliflower with chervil or parsley will do!

 

Even although the Parisian gerbet macaron wasn’t yet created in Paris yet, there’s nothing stopping you from serving the Dubarry Cauliflower Cream with a mini curry macaron, is there? The recipe is in the savoury macarons chapter from my book, Mad About Macarons! I’m sure the Countess would have approved.

This has turned out to be a long post for a few wee bowls of soup – but don’t you love a delicious French love story behind it?

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Dubarry Cauliflower Cream

Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup Recipe

5 from 5 votes
Dubarry French Cauliflower Cream Soup
Dubarry Cauliflower Cream Soup
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

A rich, creamy French classic soup or velouté that was created for Madame du Barry, King Louis XV's last and favourite mistress, who adored cauliflower

Course: Appetizer, Light Lunch, Soup, Starter
Cuisine: French
Keyword: cauliflower cream, cauliflower soup, Crème Dubarry
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 160 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 700 g (1.5lb) organic cauliflower (prepared after stalk/leaves removed)
  • 2 leeks (white part only) sliced
  • 55 g (2oz) butter (unsalted)
  • 2 tbsp flour (all purpose)
  • 1 litre chicken stock * (stock mixed with hot water)
  • 2 egg yolks organic
  • 100 g (3.5oz) half-fat cream or crème fraîche
  • Fresh chervil or flat-leaf parsley optional, for decor
  • 1/2 tsp each of salt (fleur de sel) & freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Remove the bitter stalk and leaves from the cauliflower, reserving the florets. Wash in a mixture of water with a dash of vinegar and set aside. Clean and slice the leeks.

  2. In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter then sweat the leeks in it until translucent but not brown. After 4-5 minutes, add the flour and stir together well until a smooth paste forms. Gradually whisk in the hot stock. Add the cauliflower florets, setting aside a few of the raw, smallest florets for decor. Bring to the boil.

  3. Cover, turn down the heat and leave to simmer gently for about 25 minutes.

  4. Towards the end of cooking, in a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cream, salt and pepper. Add a ladle-full of the soup's hot liquid and whisk together. Using a hand-mixer, blitz the soup until well blended. Gradually whisk in the yolk and cream mixture until the soup is smooth. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

  5. Serve topped with tiny raw cauliflower florets, chopped fresh chervil or parsley.

Recipe Notes

*  fresh chicken stock is best for this recipe, although I cheat and buy frozen stock from our local gourmet frozen French food store, Picard.

Decorate with a few tiny reserved (raw) cauliflower florets and sprigs of fresh chervil or parsley.

Update (March 2020): Try the same recipe using broccoli - it's fabulous!

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

 

 

Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce

Why am I so crazily mad about French Clafoutis at this time of year? It’s such an easy eggy custard-style classic dark cherry dessert – but it’s also just as delicious made with fresh raspberries – or my latest addictive craze, with strawberries and pistachio.  Have you, however, tried it as a savoury dish? You must try this delicate Asparagus Clafoutis.

Lemon Asparagus Clafoutis

White Asparagus Clafoutis

You may recall I tried out this large custardy version of a White Asparagus Clafoutis recipe inspired by chef, Eric Frechon from the Bristol in Paris.  However, since then I’ve lightened up the recipe.

This time the asparagus shines through with less parmesan cheese and yolks, I’ve added a subtle touch of lemon zest and made them as individual Asparagus Clafoutis portions – just perfect for a summery starter or light supper served with a crusty French baguette.

How to prepare asparagus

Stacked as they are sold at our local market

Lightly Served

Just before serving, dribble a little olive oil and some lemon juice over the asparagus. While the clafoutis are creamy enough on their own, the lemon version prefers to stay light – great for those on a summer diet!

Lemon Asparagus Clafoutis

Green Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce

Not everyone, however, seems to be in love with white asparagus, as I’ve discovered through your comments via Facebook and Instagram.

Instead, the printable recipe below is for a green asparagus version – this time without the lemon and served with the most silky, creamy parmesan sauce.

Asparagus Clafoutis

This time last year, I was generously invited to take part in Paris Perfect’s cookery classes with Chef Philippe Excoffier in Paris’s 7th arrondissement, where I wrote up this article about the delicious experience.

Chef Excoffier showed us how to prepare asparagus, telling us there was nothing to beat the old-fashioned traditional way and to remove the pedoncules or spikes to make digestion easier. He also served his legendary cheese soufflés – the Soufflés Suissesse. I strongly recommend trying out his signature dish in his restaurant in rue de l’Exposition, near the Eiffel Tower.

Asparagus Clafoutis

Remove the pedoncules or spikes to make asparagus easier to digest

Clafoutis is not exactly the most stylish looking of dishes and not to be confused with a soufflé.  While a soufflé stays upright and puffy, made with bechamel and whisking up the egg whites, the much easier clafoutis falls back down after cooling from the oven – there’s nothing to worry about when that happens: it’s totally normal and as it should be!

Chef Excoffier added a parmesan sauce to his soufflés and I find that this adapted version compliments the Asparagus Clafoutis so well.  Although the clafoutis are already creamy inside and light, this cheesy addition means saucing it all up with the freshest French baguette.

Asparagus Clafoutis

Serve them directly in their pots, to make it even easier!

Asparagus Clafoutis Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Asparagus Clafoutis Recipe
Asparagus Clafoutis with Parmesan Sauce
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

A perfect elegant yet simple dinner starter or light summer supper served with crusty French baguettes to mop up the most silky creamy parmesan sauce.

Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Light Lunch, Starter, Supper
Cuisine: French
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 395 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 500 g (1 lb) fresh asparagus
  • 3 eggs organic
  • 2 egg yolks organic
  • 10 g (4 tsp) all-purpose flour (or 2tsp cornflour to make this gluten-free)
  • 115 g (4 oz) half-fat single cream
  • 50 g (1.75oz) matured parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 1 tbsp grated zest of half an unwaxed lemon (optional - for white asparagus version only)
  • good pinch each salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan Sauce
  • 50 g (1.75oz) matured parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 140 g (5oz) single cream
  • good pinch each ground nutmeg, salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F/160°C fan/Gas 4.  Prepare 4 ramekin oven dishes by greasing them well with softened butter. 
    Snap the asparagus spears 2/3rds of the way down, where they break naturally. Peel them as close as possible to the spear heads then cut the spears into 3.

  2. Fill a large pan with water and bring to a rolling boil.  Add a generous heaped teaspoon of salt to the cooking water. Prepare a large bowl of (preferably iced) cold water.

  3. Cook the asparagus for 3 minutes (no more than 4 minutes!) then remove with a slotted spoon and immediately transfer to the cold water to stop the cooking process. 

  4. When cool, drain the asparagus, setting aside 4 spears for the decor and 4 for the ramekins. Place the others in a food processor and mix to a purée with the cream. 

  5. Prepare the clafoutis batter: beat the eggs, yolks, flour, grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper.  Mix in the creamy asparagus mixture then pour the batter into the individual buttered ramekin dishes, placing a third of a spear in each. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.

  6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly for 5-10 minutes, then using a sharp knife, cut around the edges to remove and place directly on the serving plates.

For the Parmesan Sauce:
  1. Bring the cream to the boil, adding some salt, pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg.  Add the parmesan then beat together well until smooth with a balloon whisk. Serve immediately around each clafoutis.

Recipe Notes

Keep back one asparagus spear per person for the decor.

If making the clafoutis with white asparagus, add lemon zest. There's no need for the parmesan sauce - just serve with a dash of olive oil and lemon juice.

For the green asparagus clafoutis, serve with the parmesan sauce.  I used 4 ramekin dishes but muffin moulds also work well, including briochette silicone moulds (this recipe makes 6 if using briochette moulds).

Wine Suggestions: Serve with a rich, aromatic white wine - such as a Chardonnay, Voignier, a Pinot Blanc from Alsace, or white Rioja.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Asparagus Clafoutis with parmesan sauce

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Asparagus Clafoutis

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this asparagus clafoutis recipe?  Please do leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons.  I love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook. Thanks so much for popping in!

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Egg Pasta Recipe: Alsatian Noodles

Love pasta? Well, I have a treat for you with these easy French Alsatian noodles. What’s more, they use egg yolks!

You know how I love sharing egg yolk recipes with you – especially if you’re mad about macarons, financiers, meringue and such likes that use egg whites. But just because the blog’s name has the word macaron in it, I realise now that I shouldn’t shy away from posting my favourite savoury recipes here too.

egg yolk recipes homemade pasta noodles

When the girls were younger, one of their best party souvenirs was based on a homemade pasta theme. They adored dusting the strands of pasta with flour, as well as on themselves, flour-dusting the kitchen floor as everyone took turns to rotate the pasta-maker’s handle and watch the strands appear for the grand finale like a beaded curtain found in Mediterranean yesteryear groceries.

The best part was at the end, watching them all tuck in around the table, tongues twisting with concentration as they twirled their lovingly homemade noodles around giant forks as they lapped it all up just tossed in butter with a few fresh herbs from the garden. Suddenly last week, Lucie asked to make homemade pasta again during the school holidays. And I’m so glad she did, even if this time it was just a party for two.

egg yolk recipes homemade pasta

This egg pasta is extra special as it uses so many egg yolks. I first discovered the classic recipe for them as Alsatian Noodles (Nouilles à l’Alsacienne) by the late Chef Bernard Loiseau, who loosely called for 8-10 yolks, or 5 whole eggs but over the years I’ve used a couple of eggs in there with 6 yolks and find it so easy to work with.

Normally the beautifully rich noodles are simply tossed in good butter, a little olive oil, freshly cracked pepper and often served with slow-cooked stews such as Lapin Chasseur, a right old French grandmother’s rabbit dish.

Homemade egg pasta

Alsatian Noodles – Egg Yolk Pasta Recipe

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes + 1 hour
Cooking Time: 3-5 minutes (depending on the thickness of the noodles)

To make noodles, this recipe is so much easier using a pasta machine, although it’s not completely necessary.

500g plain flour + extra for dusting
6 egg yolks
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil

Butter, olive oil & seasoning to serve

how to make homemade pasta noodles

1. Ideally, using a food mixer, mix all the ingredients at low speed until well mixed.  (If you make this by hand, make a large well in the flour, add the salt and crack the eggs and oil into it. Gradually mix in the flour with the hands until you have a non-sticky dough). Divide the pasta dough into 4, cover each with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Lightly flour the working surface. Taking each ball of pasta at a time, flatten the dough with the palm of your hand and press into the first and largest setting to flatten it out.  Repeat each step a couple of times with each of the 4 balls until the dough runs through easily.  Continue the process on setting 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 until the pasta elongates into beautifully long sheets. Sprinkle with flour, then pass through each sheet through the noodle attachment. (If making by hand, flatten to 2mm using a rolling pin, sprinkle with flour, then roll the dough into a spiral and cut into thin strips using a sharp knife).

3. Spread out the long noodles, coating them with some flour so that they don’t stick together and leave to dry for about an hour.

4. Place a large pot of water to the boil with a couple of tablespoons of salt and plunge in the pasta, stirring immediately to prevent any noodles from initially sticking to each other.  The noodles are ready as soon as they remount to the surface, after about 3-5 minutes (depending on thickness).

Serve tossed in butter and olive oil and season to taste.

egg yolk pasta recipe

This is also delicious served with my favourite dinner party recipe for Autumn-Winter, which is slow-cooked pigs’ cheeks. I must post it for you soon since when you try it, you’ll be asking for seconds!

In the meantime (don’t tell the lovely French from Alsace!), I mixed Alsace with Italy and tossed the noodles in a most deliciously easy sauce, thanks to my lovely Scottish-Italian friend, Christina Conte of Christina’s Cucina (you heard me rave about our escapade together in Bordeaux and then in Charentes-Maritime, where we took part in Karen’s Lavender & Lovage Cookery School).  You must watch Christina’s Dad making this anchovy sauce recipe!  Although it’s not traditional with these noodles, we thought it was fantastic.

French egg pasta noodles Alsace

Alsatian Noodles - Egg Yolk Pasta Recipe
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
4 mins
Resting Time
45 mins
Total Time
34 mins
 
Alsatian Noodles, an easy recipe using egg yolks for macaron and meringue lovers! To make noodles, this recipe is so much easier using a pasta machine, although it's not completely necessary.
Course: Light Lunch, Main Course, Supper
Cuisine: French
Keyword: alsatian, egg pasta recipe, egg yolk recipes, Noodles
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 564 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 500 g plain flour + extra for dusting
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. Ideally, using a food mixer, mix all the ingredients at low speed until well mixed. (If you make this by hand, make a large well in the flour, add the salt and crack the eggs and oil into it. Gradually mix in the flour with the hands until you have a non-sticky dough). Divide the pasta dough into 4, cover each with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Lightly flour the working surface. Taking each ball of pasta at a time, flatten the dough with the palm of your hand and press into the first and largest setting to flatten it out. Repeat each step a couple of times with each of the 4 balls until the dough runs through easily. Continue the process on setting 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 until the pasta elongates into beautifully long sheets. Sprinkle with flour, then pass through each sheet through the noodle attachment. (If making by hand, flatten to 2mm using a rolling pin, sprinkle with flour, then roll the dough into a spiral and cut into thin strips using a sharp knife).
  3. Spread out the long noodles, coating them with some flour so that they don’t stick together and leave to dry for about an hour.
  4. Place a large pot of water to the boil with a couple of tablespoons of salt and plunge in the pasta, stirring immediately to prevent any noodles from initially sticking to each other. The noodles are ready as soon as they remount to the surface, after about 3-5 minutes (depending on thickness).
Recipe Notes

Serve tossed in butter and olive oil and season to taste.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Now you’ve used 6 egg yolks for the pasta, leave the egg whites in a clean jam jar with lid on for up to 5 days and enjoy making macarons, financiers and meringue-topped French tarts from Teatime in Paris!

Alsatian noodles egg yolk recipe