13 December 2007

Pig skin soup with beans - sounds horrible - doesn't it ?

hardworkinghippy opening a jar of pig skins for making Soupe aux couennes et aux haricots
Pig skin potted in 2005, originally uploaded by hardworkinghippy.

In French, it's "Soupe aux couennes et aux haricots" or even just "Soupe d'haricots couennes" and if you mention that to anyone who appreciates and knows a bit about good food, their eyes will light up - because it's an old classic French country soup, very rare these days, really delicious, easy to make and very quick if you cheat and use tinned beans. As I do, sometimes.

Pig skins are often thrown away or given to the dogs - there's so much to do the day after you kill the pig. However, we know that you eat everything except the "oink" so I decided I'd learn as much as I can about how each part of the pig is used. Our neighbours showed us how to strip the fat off the skin to use as the flavour base for lots of different dishes. When they explained what to do I was a bit dubious, but I've since learned to listen to what they're saying - it's amazing what you learn.

hardworkinghippy Soupe aux couennes et aux haricots 1I made a batch of couennes two years ago - I found this jar at the back of the cellar when I was looking for jars to wash to get ready for my next outbreak of sterilising and it's always a good idea to use up stored food within a few years, so I thought I'd explain what this is and what we do with it. (...makes a change from knitting.)

Preparing the skin well and tying the slices in string before sterilising the jars makes the pieces much easier to manage when you're cutting them up, so it's worth the extra effort to wrap them before you pack them into the jars.

hardworkinghippy Soupe aux couennes et aux haricots 2The pork gives a lovely rich flavour which peps up vegetables, potatoes or any dried pulses you have in the store cupboard, so it's very useful to have jars of these ready to make into something you know will be good.
This tiny jar has enough to make a soupe de couenne for about six people - with extra helpings.

Cut the string off and cut up the skin.

hardworkinghippy making pig skin soupBoil a half a cup of water in a large pan then put the skin in and boil hard to until it starts to burn and sizzle and stick to the pan. Keep stirring and burn the skin - adding a little water from time to time then clean the bottom of the pan with your spatula, repeating this until the mixture smells very good. That's the very individual smell of crackling that burning the skin gives to the soup.

hardworkinghippy Soupe aux couennes et aux haricots 3Add more water and boil again and if you prefer, let the soup cool and skim off some of the fat. Add the pre-cooked or tinned beans and boil, then simmer gently for about twenty minutes then add garlic. Serve with slices of hard bread and put salt and pepper on the table - they help bring out the taste of the pork.
Serve something light after the soup because it's filling and really warming on a cold winter's night.


Mousie/Paisible said...

makes me feel hungry...nice soup for cold days...and I love pork couenne...when it's roasted too very crispy...so nice...

La Ferme de Sourrou said...

Hi Mousie !!!

It's one of the great tastes I've discovered since coming to France!

I hope you're enjoying the Yule season and that you and yours are well and happy.

Kisses from me and Fabrice xxxx

Stew said...

I made pork scratchings the other day. very nice too.
I'm tinkering with a blogroll of french bloggers. It's small, but growing. You'll see it on my sidebar under the french flag. You'll probably recognise some of the blogs too!
Let me know if you'd like to be included.

or mail stewart.paterson@wanadoo."efferre"

La Ferme de Sourrou said...

Hi Stew,

Of course I don't mind if you include La Ferme de Sourrou on your blogroll - go ahead.


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