Recipe for Le Mourtayrol (Chicken, Beef And Bacon Soup W/ Saffron)


3 1/3 lb beef silverside
1 fat boiling lowl
1 1/2 lb gammon
1 salt
1 black pepper; freshly ground
4 carrots
4 leeks
2 small turnips
3 onions
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1 loaf french bread
2 tablespoon olive oil


Put the silverside, chicken and gammon into a large pot. Cover generously with water. Add a little salt, but not too much as the gammon is salty, and plenty of pepper. Bring slowly to the boil. Skim off the scum and add the whole vegetables. Reduce the heat, partly cover the pot and gently simmer, with just the occasional bubble bursting on the surface, for 4 hours. After 2 1/2 hours remove 1 pint of stock from the pot, add the saffron to it and leave it to infuse for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the bread into slices, toast them lightly and arrange them in a stoneware pot or in a heavy casserole. Pour on the stock and saffron, cover the pot and cook gently for 1 hour either on top of the stove, using a heat diffuser, or in a moderately low oven. Stir occasionally so that the bread dissolves into a creamy yellow paste. If it becomes too dry, add a little more stock from the pot. Finally stir in the oil. Remove the meats and the vegetables from the soup to serve later as the main course. Strain the soup and ladle it into individual soup bowls. Add a large spoonful of the mourtayrol to each bowl and serve.

The thick potees and garbures of the southwest of France are well known. Less familiar are ouillade, a bean soup, and the mourtayrol of Languedoc with its unusual saffron-flavoured bread sauce which accompanies the clear soup and gives the dish its name. The meat and vegetables of the dish are eaten afterwards as the main course.

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