The legend of the truffle soup

La soupe aux truffes
La soupe aux truffes

The legend of the famous truffle soup was born in 1975 February 25, when French president Valéry Giscard D’Estaing promoted Paul Bocuse to Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (the highest decoration in France). For that occasion, the father of French gastronomy was asked to prepare a special meal and one of the dishes he decided to serve for the president and the guests was la soupe aux truffes.

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According to Bocuse, 1974-1975  winter was especially good for truffles. One early January (1975) evening, Jean-Claude Dumas, Paul Bocuse’s truffle supplier invites the chef for “a superb vegetables soup”  which he serves with a basket of freshly gathered truffles on the side. The grandfather of Dumas suggests slicing a few flakes of the precious mushrooms to the soup. The heat of the broth liberates the wonderful flavors of the truffles that stay in the memory of the grand chef. One week later, Bocuse goes to Alsace for hunting where his friend Paul Haeberlin (the chef of another 3 Michelin star restaurant L’Auberge de l’Ill) serves him a puff pastry covered ramekin with foie gras and truffles, thus inspiring Bocuse to merge the two recipes.

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After a few trials in the Bocuse kitchen of Collonges, la soupe aux truffes, how it is now and how it’s been for the last 40 years, is born…

During the historical meal on the 25th of February, president Giscard D’Estaing asks Bocuse how to eat the soup. He simply answers : “Just break the crust, Mr President”. Good advice indeed, Mr Bocuse… Full review to follow…

P.S. For those curious about the rest of the menu served at L’Élysée that day, apart of the soup, the menu contained salmon à l’oseille (with sorrel sauce) by Pierre and Jean Troisgros, “Claude Jolly” duck by Michel Guérard, salads by Roger Vergé and cake “Président” by Maurice Bernachon.

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