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Soup

“A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate paining,” psychologist Abraham Maslow is credited with having said. In my hierarchy of food needs, soup is at the very top. Many people may say that autumn and winter are soup season, but, in my opinion, every day is suitable for soup. From cool, fruit-based soups in the summer, to think winter stews, soup is always in season in our house.

Soup is also quiet easy and rarely needs much attention past the peeling and chopping. It is the perfect meal for busy weekday nights. And busy is an understatement for what we have been the past few weeks while this blog has been silent. As a result, our evenings have been filled with vegetable-packed chunky soups – toss in a few coordinating vegetables, add in some pasta or rice, sprinkle in some work-well-together spices, boil, tuck in a lot of greens while the Frenchman isn’t looking, and serve with grated cheese.

This week, though, we are (somewhat) less time pressed and back to our more “gourmet” soups who shine as first courses instead of one-pot meals. The soups we have chosen are seasonal and packed with the best veggies from Tuesday’s farmers’ market. Tonight we’ll be having this carrot and orange soup with a second course of sweet potatoes, swiss chard*, and feta. *Substituting colorful ruculoa as I made it to the market too late to pick up any swiss chard. Wednesday has another creative soup on the menu with this beet, fennel, and kefir soup that we’ll pair with some leftover chicken and wild spinach from today’s market. Thursday we will have a soup break (or eat leftovers) together with some orange cauliflower flank steak and mushrooms. And, finally, Friday we’ll see a reprise of one of our favorites from the last few weeks, this spectacular garlic soup, which incorporates three entire heads of roasted garlic and which we devoured in a single sitting last time.

For lunches, we’ll be having this kale salad multiple times as well as quick sandwiches from the ham leg the Frenchman received for his birthday and which we have been carving away on each day and seasonal fruits, such as apples, pineapples, persimmons, and oranges.

At the market, kale and potatoes are beginning to take center stage with the vegetable sellers while the fruit vendors continue to push pineapples, oranges, pomegranates, and persimmons. The best deal I saw today was 85 mandarins for 5 euros. That’s enough citrus to feed a family for weeks! My best find was a huge head of kale for 1.50 euros, and I look forward to using it all week in our fresh kale and apple salads.

What fresh, seasonal produce is on your menu for the week?

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A Good Camembert

As I headed for the door towards Tuesday’s market, shopping bags in my arms, the Frenchman called out his only request for this week – “a good camembert.”

At the Enschede market there are several cheesemongers who have Saturday market stalls as well as a permanent stall in the market square that is open every day. This permanent stall is our go-to for cheese purchasing as it is possible to literally ride our bikes up to the counter, order, and ride away without ever dismounting. Plus, it also gives out frequent-buyer chips that can be cashed in for what appear to be stuffed cows. We unfortunately only recently learned of the chips but have made progress towards a cow with 5 chips in our chip container, representing 12.50 euros in purchases. Only 45 more chips and 112.50 euros to go.

After my shopping at Tuesday’s market I stopped by the square’s cheesemonger to see about the Frenchman’s request, but the single Camembert did not look like it might fall in the “really good” category. This hunt called for a short bike ride to the other side of the city center and a pop into one of my favorite stores in Enschede, De Leckernij. One side of this speciality shop as well as the center aisle is dedicated to cheese while the other side contains vats of oil and vinegars from which I refill my oil bottles every few weeks. (The back is full of sausages, nuts roasted in-house, and olives.) This oil and vinegar concept is new to me but appears popular in Enschede as I have recently discovered another shop taking the concept further; its name – Oil & Vinegar.

The smells upon entering De Leckernij are overwhelming. The air is heavy with the aroma of cheese and garlic, which hangs on strings around the shop. Samples are a plenty, and the Frenchman particularly likes to come with me and nosh. “Can we try that one? And that one? And, what’s that one?” we ask while the clerks cut slices for us to try. “Shhhhh,” I whisper. “No more. They’re going to get annoyed with us when we only buy one thing after having sampled fifteen.”

“I’m looking for a really good Camembert,” I told the clerk this afternoon, “the best you have.” The options were many – slices of Camembert, rounds of pasteurized Camembert, raw Camembert. Always swayed by pretty things, I settled on La Petite Normande, which features a woman dressed in traditional clothing on its logo. The cheese comes from Normandy, the birthplace of Camembert, from the cheese maker Le Pic Saint-Loup, which, interestingly, is the name of a mountain situated on the other end of France outside of Montpellier, where we spent a month last year.

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After doing some at-home research, I am confident I chose the best Camembert Enschede has to offer. Per one Web site:

Domaine de Saint Loup’s ‘La Petite Normande’, . . . is one of the few remaining genuine Norman Camemberts. The cheese is made from raw cow’s milk and is hand ladled, dry salted and turned manually during maturation. When ripe the white rind is streaked with reddish brown patches and has the signature Camembert aroma of cabbage and mould. The paste should have no trace of chalkiness, but- unlike Camembert Rustique-it never becomes liquid. The flavour is full and pungent, with traces of mushrooms, butter and grass.

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Mmmmm cabbage and mould. Though the cheese was meant to be for tomorrow, as I write, I am becoming more and more hungry and head to the fridge to sample our new cheese. Even though I know full well that cheese should always be served at room temperature (or melted or baked) for the best taste I cannot resist and now sit, writing, with a piece of Camembert on a plate next to me. It is simply delicious with a full, strong taste, a very good Camembert indeed.

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* Another reason that I love De Leckernij is that it is located near both my favorite loose-tea store in the city, Tuttitalia, as well as my favorite coffeehouse (not coffeeshop,) Bagels & Beans, which is as close to a sit-and-work-on-the-computer-with-a-latte place as I’ve discovered so far in Enschede. Pretty much, it is the best block in the city.

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