Bibliophiles' Lunch

Sisters share paleo recipes, books, and DIY

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Soupe de Chataignes Corse (Chestnut and Pancetta Soup)


I am trying to avoid onions and garlic as I find these things so hard to digest. I decided to alter the Chestnut and Pancetta Soup recipe from The Soups of France by Lois Anne Rothert by substituting celeriac for the onion and broth for the water.

Celeriac (celery root) comes in many sizes.
I used three small celery roots for this soup.

1 lb chestnuts packed in a glass jar
3 oz pancetta diced
3 small celery roots peeled and diced
1 large fennel bulb sliced
6 cups chicken broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute the pancetta in the soup kettle for 5 minutes to render the fat and brown the bits. Add the chopped celery roots and saute for a few more minutes. Add the fennel, chestnuts and enough broth to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Simmer for 25 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Using a stick blender, puree the soup until it is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.


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Paleo Ham Soup


I began with the Paleo Ham and No-Bean Soup from, but of course I changed a few things around. This is such a simple recipe that I couldn’t resist trying it. I find simple soups with limited ingredients come out much better than soups where I throw everything in the kitchen into the pot. I had an applewood smoked ham from Whole Foods that was a bit too salty for me, so I figured it would work in a soup.

1 head cauliflower
1 small ham, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 slender scallions, chopped

Separate the cauliflower into florets, cover with water and boil until soft. Use the stick blender to puree the cauliflower. When it is smooth, add the diced ham, carrots, celery, and scallions. I had no ham bone, so I left this out. Bring soup to the boil and simmer half an hour.

Paleo cooking uses cauliflower as a base for gravy and as a grain substitute among other things, and I thought this would be a great soup base. Even without broth or a bone to boil, this soup came out satisfyingly rich. I think it would be even better with broth, but I didn’t have any on hand.

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Carrot & Squash Soup


I had a butternut squash and wanted to make it into soup, so I looked through some recipes online and modified one to suit the ingredients I had on hand. I began with a recipe for Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup but modified it as I didn’t have parsnips and didn’t think an apple was necessary.

3 oz pancetta rounds
1 medium butternut squash
1 lb carrots (I had a bag of mixed colors and used all the yellow carrots and a few of the orange ones)
1 small onion
1 clove elephant garlic (which is milder than regular and much larger)
1 tsp chopped ginger
2-1/2 chopped fresh turmeric root
1/2 tsp piment d’espelette (a milder French red pepper)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 qt chicken broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt

Chop the pancetta and fry it in the bottom of the kettle. When it is crisp remove the pancetta and reserve it to use as a garnish for the soup. Using the fat rendered by the pancetta, saute the chopped onion until it has softened. Add the squash peeled an diced, chopped carrots, garlic, ginger, turmeric, piment d’espelette, cardamom, salt, coconut milk and broth. Bring to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are softened. Puree the soup with a stick blender and serve garnished with pancetta.

This soup is a bit spicy and nicely warming for a cold winter evening. It is also a lovely rich yellow color and delicious.

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Celery Root Bisque


I love hot soup on a cold day. This is a lovely soup–very tasty. This is my paleo adaptation:

4 oz fat of your choice (I used duck fat)
1-1/2 lb celery root (1 large), peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 lb shallots, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs, chopped
1-1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup home made coconut milk

Saute the celery root, celery, shallots, salt and pepper until vegetables are golden–about 12 minutes. Cover with stock and boil uncovered until the celery root is very tender. Using a stick blender, puree the soup until it reaches the consistency you like. Add the lemon juice and coconut milk. Serve hot.

The original recipe on p 102 of The Gourmet Cookbook calls for 1 leg of confit duck–meat shredded and skin made into cracklings–used as a garnish. This sounds very tasty but I didn’t have one, so I skipped these parts of the instructions. Of course the original called for cream instead of coconut milk and did specify butter as the fat.

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Potage Alenois (Watercress Soup)


I had meant to try this soup for years and the stars finally aligned this holiday season–I had good watercress and I remembered to try the recipe (from The Soups of France, by Lois Anne Rothert, p 38) simultaneously. Of course I had to significantly alter the recipe for my dietary restrictions. The original recipe calls for watercress, butter, shallots, potatoes, water, salt, milk, sour cream, and parsley or chervil.

Here is my (very different) nondairy version:

2 bunches watercress, large stems removed
2 – 3 Tbs olive oil or other fat of choice
2 leeks, white and pale green parts chopped
4 – 6 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt

Coarsely chop the watercress leaves. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over low heat. Simmer the leeks until softened. Add the watercress, broth; add additional water to cover if needed. Simmer until the leeks and watercress are soft (15 – 20 minutes). Using a handheld blender blend a bit so that there are still some chunks left in the soup. Add salt to taste.

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Soupe de Cepes Correzienne (Wild Mushroom Soup)


I began with the Wild Mushroom Soup recipe from The Soups of France by Lois Anne Rothert, my favorite soup recipe book. The original recipe calls for 16 oz fresh cepes. Since that isn’t so easy to accomplish, I generally reconstitute two to three little packages of dried mushrooms–porcini (Italian for cepe) or any other dried varieties–or I use whatever fresh mushrooms appeal to me at the supermarket. This time I used a package of white button mushrooms and a package of baby bella mushrooms.  Here is my version of the recipe:

16 oz package white button mushrooms, sliced
16 oz package baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 leeks sliced white and pale green parts only
3 Tbs rendered bacon fat (or fat of your choice)
2 cloves garlic
1-1/2 quarts chicken broth
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup coconut milk (homemade or canned, unsweetened)

Clean the mushrooms and slice. Slice the leeks. Melt the fat and saute the leeks for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cover stirring from time to time. When the mushrooms have rendered their liquid, softened and shrunk a bit add the garlic, broth, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. Using a stick blender puree the soup until it is the consistency you like–I like pieces of mushroom still in my soup so I don’t puree much. Add the coconut milk.

Voila! A simple soup that is tasty and satisfying.

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Ris de Veau Braises (Braised Sweetbreads) Julia Child Recipe

Sweetbreads are so tender and delicious. I first discovered them in France and have loved them ever since. I’m glad that Dartagnan carries organic sweetbreads. They are the thymus gland and/or pancreas of a calf. I have been told that as the animal ages, the thymus shrinks, so only the calf gland is available. The flavor is mild and buttery in consistency.


1-1/2 to 2 lbs sweetbreads (ordered from
1/4 cup each finely diced carrots, shallots. and celery
2 oz diced ham, pancetta or bacon
4 sprigs parsley
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 bay leaf
pinch salt
pinch pepper
1/2 – 3/4 cup white wine
2 -4 cups chicken stock

Soak the sweetbreads in a large pot of water overnight in the refrigerator. Drain and peel the tough membranes off the sweetbreads and then blanch them in simmering water with lemon juice and salt (1 tsp salt and 1 TBS lemon juice per quart) for 15 minutes. Drain and plunge into cold water for 5 minutes.

Cook the vegetables and ham or bacon slowly for 10 – 15 minutes until tender but not browned. Add the sweetbreads and seasonings and cook an additional 2 – 3 minutes. Add wine and broth to cover. Bring to a simmer on the stove top, then cover and place in 325 F oven for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sweetbreads cool in their broth until ready to serve.

From Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume I by Julia Child, p 409 – 411