Months ago, Alain Braux, a chef and nutritherapist from nearby Austin, Texas, shared his newest book with me – Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food.
Alain asked me to review his book, and so I did. It was a lengthier read than a lot of “cookbooks”, so it took me a bit of time. However, Alain is thorough. He explains the aspects of celiac disease, what it is, how to manage it, and gives a lot of details on how to travel, live healthfully, and some of the topics many books don’t cover – how to cope. Many just starting out with a gluten-free or dairy-free diet feel they have few choices – either feel deprived, or live with inferior store-bought “substitute” products. Alain explains that there is a third option, and he offers up some delicious French recipes to get you started. French recipes? (Aren’t most French recipes comprised of bread and cheese – and wine? How is this accomplished on a gluten and dairy-free diet?) Alain shows that even gluten and dairy-free French dishes can be delectable.
I tried several recipes, but by far, my favorite was one of the easier ones – his tomato soup. It tasted so fresh, bright, and satisfying. I enjoyed it with a slice of Ginger Lemon Girl’s vegan crusty bread for an easy vegan meal. On a chilly evening, it can’t get any better than that.
Soupe de Tomates a la Nicoise (Nicoise-Style Tomato Soup), from Alain Braux’s Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food
2 T olive oil
2 medium white onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 t sea salt
3 lbs ripe tomatoes (since it’s still winter, I opted for high-quality canned whole tomatoes)
2 t sugar
5-6 basil leaves
2 t dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 t ground black pepper
1 qt vegetable broth
5-6 parsley sprigs
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 T olive oil
1 c rice or tapioca, optional (since I had bread, I omitted this)
In a large soup pot, saute the onions, garlic, and salt in the olive oil until golden. Clean and quarter your tomatoes. Add to the onion mix. Add sugar, basil, thyme, bay leaf, clove, and black pepper. Bring to a boil and cook at medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender.
Process the whole soup in a food processor with a metal blade until coarse, but not pureed. Put back into the pot and add the vegetable broth to your liking, making the soup as thick or as thin as you’d like. Bring to a boil.
At this point, you can enjoy the soup as is. Great hot or cold. Or you could add the thickener of your choice – rice, tapioca, or even some mashed potatoes.
Just before serving, mix the finely chopped parsley and garlic with the olive oil. Stir into the soup and serve.