Lille + Capucine Tubéreuse Soup

During my last trip to Lille, after a walk around the city in the dead of winter, I made a capucine tubéreuse soup which was perfect to warm ourselves up. I say cold wintery walks call for warming winter soups.

Since a few years ago, every winter I spend a few days in Lille, France, just after Christmas. Lille isn’t exactly known for lovely weather nor droughts. Sometimes there is proper rain but most of the time there is a permanent miserable drizzle within a dense mist. And boy is it cold! Because of that my camera usually doesn’t go out for walks with me as I have this terrible phobia of it getting damp inside and thus getting damaged forever. I took advantage of one afternoon when one ray of sun was trying to make an appearance and the rain had temporarily stopped, to bring my camera with me around the city. The truth is, the old part of the city, le Vieux-Lille, is charming and I had always wanted to photograph some of the streets.

Pardon moi for the still Christmassy theme to the photos, as these were taken, as already mentioned, just after Christmas.

Three years ago, during my post Christmas trip to Lille, I met my friend Darya from the blog Tortore. Since then we have met up again each year, so now it has turned into a seasonal tradition for us to get together. This year she invited us over her place. We cooked together and had a great time –more of that in a future post.

This year I was wondering how did we connect in the first place? Did I first pop over to her blog, or did she to mine? Was it through a mutual blogger or from social media? Darya, who in my opinion has a prodigious memory, remembered. It was through a post on my blog about a traditional stinky Northern French cheese called Maroilles. Note: I think this Maroilles post did not survive my move from WP to Squarespace. For little cheesemonsters like us, there can be no more brilliant way to meet than through a stinky cheese.

Anyway, one afternoon Darya took us to Wazemmes market. Wazemmes is a covered market and I have to admit one of the best –if not the best– markets I have ever been to. Why do I think it’s so good? It has so many stalls that highly specialize in their own thing. For example, there was this stall with boudin sausages. I had never seen so many varieties of boudin blanc or boudin noir before. Everything was nicely displayed, and the market was so clean.

We didn’t arrive there with a shopping list but we ended up buying smoked sausages from a Polish product stand, a variety of cheeses, including a Belgian cheese that is in danger of extinction, and some vegetables.

At the vegetable stand, some tubers that looked like chubby wiggly worms caught our attention. They weren’t actually wiggling, thankfully. Darya explained that they are called Capucine tubéreuse, from the Andes, and that they are considered a delicacy. May I add that at their price they just as well should be a delicacy… Darya suggested we could make a velouté with them, a creamy soup. We decided to buy some and give them a try.

Let me do a wild comparison and suggest that cooking the Capucine tubéreuse was like the experience of enjoying a fine perfume, discovering its different notes that surprise you as minutes go by.

First I washed and peeled the Capucine tubéreuse. They gave off the most beautiful earthy but finely perfumed smell, like powdery white flowers. I noticed that the folds of the tubers, which were also darker in colour, seemed to have tiny pockets of dark purple ink. Later on, while they were boiling away, the ink seemed to be liberating itself from its pockets and tinting the water a purplish black colour, which made me think of squids squirting out their ink.

The soup turned out a browny colour, because the water was later blended in with the rest of the ingredients. The Capucine tubéreuse gave the velouté an earthy peppery taste and as it bubbled away, its divine aroma filled the whole apartment.

Capucine tubereuse soup recipe for winter

Capucine Tubéreuse Soup Recipe

Ingredients (serves 4)

600gr Capucine tubéreuse
500gr potatoes
2 turnips
3 tablespoons crème fraîche
freshly ground black pepper

Wash and peel the Capucine tubéreuse, potatoes and turnips. Cut them into pieces. Put them into a large pot. Add enough water to cover.

Bring the Capucine tubéreuse to boil for about 5 minutes. Let it simmer on lower heat while stirring once in a while for about 50 minutes. Add more water if it ever looks like it will dehydrate too much. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Add the crème fraîche. Blend with a blender until it becomes creamy.



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