The soup is white like a virgin. White being the color of innocence, peace and tranquility. The kind of white that borders at blue, our ocean of emotions at rest, reflecting a crisp and cloudless sky. Not the kind of white that is reminiscent of girlish innocence. Being immaculate white diluted with a drop of bloody deep red. Girls like pink at the verge of their transition from innocent virginity into passionate femininity. The soup however is immaculate. Immaculate white with slight hints of heavy sweetness, tangy spice and depth.
Soup to a chef is maybe what a white canvas is to a painter. It teases the artist’s sense of creativity. Soup can be anything: color, taste, temperature, heavy, light, surprising or soothing. Certainly any dish can have these qualities. But with soup somehow it’s like starting from scratch. Sometimes it begins with an image of the end result. Which can be thick and creamy orange for example. Sometimes the creative process starts with a food item: an oxtail, wild asparagus or leek. Other times I think of a name, like soupe à la Reine. Which I believe is genuinely Dutch and resembles my own name.
Soupe à la Reine is white and velvety and very soothing. It’s classic French cooking at it’s best. The original Dutch Soupe à la Reine is a thin roux based bechamel, enriched with cream and garnished with a handful of garden peas, little cubes of carrot and celeriac. It’s minimalistic, rich and simple. And it’s all in the broth.
The best soup I’ve ever made is white too. And velvety, rich and deep; as innocent as it is full of flavor and life. The white is pure and only garnished with black seeds from a vanilla pod. I thought of Dame Blanche for a name. But maybe Soupe à la Reina is better.
1 celeriac, peeled and cut in large trunks
2 liter vegetable broth
1/2 nutmeg freshly grated
1/2 vanilla pod
pepper and salt
Put all ingredients together in a pot. Then bring broth to a boil. Close the pan with a lid. Let simmer as long as possible. If possible 2 hours. The water will partly evaporate. As long as the celeriac remains under the broth surface, you don’t fill up with water/broth. After you’ve consumed all your cooking time, take out the vanilla pod. Place it on a cutting board and cautiously with a sharp knife cut it open length-wise. With a teaspoon or knife, scrape out the seeds and put these back in the soup. Then blender the content of the pan, not adding all the liquid at once. Slowly add more broth until the soup reaches your preferred consistency, rather thicker then thin.