The distance between France and the Netherlands is relatively small, there’s just Belgium in between the two countries and it doesn’t take more than an hour and a half to drive from the Dutch border to the French one. But even though the difference in kilometers may be rather insignificant, there are enough small cultural differences to drive one a bit crazy sometimes.
I once promised to make a traditional Dutch soup, a clear vegetable soup with meatballs. I spent all afternoon making the bouillon myself, cutting the vegetables, making the meatballs and preparing the soup just like it should be. So the last reaction I expected to hear when I served it was “Where’s the soup, Eva? This isn’t soup!”.
Well, turns out you’re supposed to puree it before you have the right to call something soup in France…
Don’t get me wrong, we Dutch have our own particularities. Like our national obsession with bread or the idea that a hot meal should always consist of three parts (and potatoes belong to the pasta/rice category, don’t you dare call it a vegetable!).
Aside from the occasional confusion and misunderstanding, I really like the cultural differences. Discovering new points of view and ways of doing or saying things is fun, and I think it has made my world bigger. Plus it gives me something new to discover (and laugh about) almost every day.
But still, after my soup-debacle I was pretty happy to find my allies in the Italians. Their minestrone is my kind of soupe, potage, bouillon or whatever you want to call it. I hope I’m not upsetting any Italians now, but I’ve heard that there’s no official recipe for this vegetable soup. Ideal to use any leftover vegetables, or in my case, leftover sausages. Easy to prepare and everyone loves it.
- 2 sausages (I used saucisse de Toulouse)
- 1 big carrot, chopped
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 1 bouillon cube
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- fresh basil
- 100 gr of small pasta
- 50 gr of fresh spinach
- grated parmesan
- salt & pepper
- Push the meat of out the sausage skin (we won't use the skin)
- Bake the meat, with the shallot, onion and carrot, in some olive oil
- After a few minutes, add the bouillon cube, the can of tomatoes, some basil and the pasta
- Cook for 10 minutes
- If it gets too thick, add some water (we're making soup, not sauce)
- Turn down the heat, add the spinach and let it simmer for another minute
- Add salt & pepper to your liking
- Top with some parmesan just before serving