In honor of what would be Julia Child’s 100th birthday –she was born August 15th, 1912—Abrams Books for Young Readers published Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich and Amy Bates. This adorable story introduces the iconic American chef Julia Child to a new audience of young readers through the story of her spirited cat, Minette, whom Julia adopted when living in Paris.
When I asked Susanna Reich what inspired her to write about Julia Child through the lens of her beloved cat, she replied: “As a lifelong Julia Child fan and cat person, I was thrilled to discover that Julia was a cat lover, too. I’d wanted to write about her for years, and when I read her memoir, My Life in France, I found so many irresistible anecdotes about Minette. Suddenly this iconic television chef and genius cookbook author became much more accessible, and I knew I’d found a fun way to tell the story.”
Looking for a fun, delicious, and easy Julia Child recipe to celebrate her 100th birthday? Here’s what Susanna had to say about the following Cream of Cucumber Soup recipe, which she shared on the ALA Cooking Stage this summer: “One of my favorite recipes is Potages aux Concombres (Cream of Cucumber Soup), from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 2. It does something unexpected with an everyday food. Who would have thought of cooking a cucumber? It’s also unusual because it’s thickened with farina (cream of wheat) instead of flour, rice or potatoes. And it’s easy enough for young readers to make, with a little help. My version (below) is adapted from Julia’s. It’s a refreshing, cold summer soup.”
Potage Aux Concombres (Cream of Cucumber Soup)
3 firm, fresh cucumbers (about 8 inches long)
½ cup minced shallots*
3 Tb unsalted butter
6 cups light homemade chicken stock, or canned broth and water
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
¾ tsp dried dill or tarragon
¼ cup quick-cooking farina (cream of wheat) breakfast cereal
sea salt and white pepper
1 cup sour cream
1-2 Tb minced fresh dill or tarragon
Peel the cucumbers. Cut one cucumber in half. Run a fork vertically down the outside of one of the halves to lightly score it, then cut that half into paper-thin slices and reserve for later. Cut the rest of the cucumbers into half-inch chunks.
In a heavy-bottomed stainless or enameled saucepan, cook the shallots slowly in the butter for several minutes until tender but not browned.
Add the cucumber chunks, chicken broth, vinegar and herbs. Bring to the boil, then stir in the farina. Simmer, partially covered, for 20-25 minutes.
Purée in a blender and return the soup to the pan. Add more liquid if necessary, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Beat in ½ cup sour cream and let sit uncovered, stirring occasionally. Then cover and chill. Ladle into shallow, chilled soup bowls, adding a spoonful of sour cream to the center of each bowl. Float cucumber slices on top of the cream and decorate with fresh herbs.
*If shallots are unavailable, substitute scallions and/or onions.
Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich, illustrated by Amy Bates (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2012) is available now where books are sold!
Morgan Dubin is a Publicity and Marketing Assistant for ABRAMS.