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Release date: 12/28/2004.

You'll find this recipe in it, From AN EXALTATION OF SOUPS,
copyright © 2004
by Patricia Solley,
Published by Three Rivers Press.

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Le Mourtaïrol

(Périgourdine Saffron Soup)

In Périgord, France, this bread soup is traditionally served after funerals. Heavy with saffron, thick, and hearty, it certainly goes back to medieval times. Too bad it's so closely associated with death--it's a wonderful--and beautiful--soup...maybe worth resurrecting, say, for occasions when you need a ceremonial dish to officially put something behind you. Serve hot to 6.

  • 1 loaf stale French bread, cut into thin slices
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, cut in small pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 8 cups rich chicken stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron, ground or crushed to a powder

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.

Make one layer of bread slices in the bottom of a deep casserole, sprinkle with chicken meat and carrots, then continue to layer up until all the ingredients are used, ending with bread on top. Don't layer to the top of the pot or you'll splash in the oven.

Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan. In a small cup, mix the crushed saffron with several Tablespoons of hot broth and allow about 5 minutes to completely release the saffron color and flavor. It will be a dark orange liquid. Mix in with the rest of the stock, then ladle over the casserole. When the top layer of bread slices begin to float, gently add about another cup worth. Put, uncovered, in the oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees. Back about an hour--most of the liquid will be absorbed and a gratin will form on the top.

To serve, spoon into flat soup plates.