Friday, August 14, 2015

The French Winophiles: Le Tourin Gascon a la Tomate #winophiles

Welcome to third event for The French Winophiles, coordinated by Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva. Here's her plan - we start with the Regions first and then move to the Appellations. The proposed schedule, based somewhat on the seasons is as follows:

  • June 20 - Loire Valley (click for my post: here)
  • July 18 - Provence or Corsica (click for my post: here)
  • August 15 - Southwest
  • September 19 - Languedoc-Roussillon
  • October 17 - Cote due Rhone
  • November 21 - Bordeaux
  • December 19 - Champagne
  • January 16 - Burgundy
  • February 20 - Alsace

To the Southwest of France...

We're referring to the region that's inland and south from the Bordeaux and Saint Emilion regions, Marcillac is a small area, but the area vineyards of Cahors, Gaillac and Bergerac are extensive and best known for their reds. The Cahors area produces some of the richest and darkest red wines in France, primarily using the Malbec grape variety, sometimes referred to as "black wine." Had I been able to track some down in time, I definitely would have tried it. But, as it is, I'm still looking!

In the Glass

While researching the area's wines, I opted to go with Armagnac, a distinctive brandy that's distilled from wine and produced in the Armagnac region in Gascony, in southwest France.

In the 14th century, clergymen claimed it had therapeutic benefits: "It makes disappear redness and burning of the eyes, and stops them from tearing; it cures hepatitis, sober consumption adhering. It cures gout, cankers, and fistula by ingestion; restores the paralysed member by massage; and heals wounds of the skin by application. It enlivens the spirit, partaken in moderation, recalls the past to memory, renders men joyous, preserves youth and retards senility. And when retained in the mouth, it loosens the tongue and emboldens the wit, if someone timid from time to time himself permits."

Those would all be nice effects of drinking Armagnac. I can't vouch for any of them, but I will say that it was a pleasant sip and added that je ne sais quoi allure to my dish. In the glass, it was a shimmering amber. On the nose, I detected some muted floral notes - think lemon blossom - and honey. And on the palate, it was mildly spicy, but rounded, with a strong taste of licorice.

In the Bowl

There is a traditional French dish made with ortolan, a small finch-like songbird. The dish is now banned due to the treatment of the bird - the ortolan is forcefed to fatten it, then it's drowned in Armagnac and roasted. Yikes! I decided to make a traditional Gascon soup, Le Tourin Gascon a la Tomate (Tomato Soup Gascon-Style).


  • 2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cored and cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 t fresh oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 C water
  • zest and juice from 1 organic lemon
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 T Armagnac + more for serving

Heat oil in large souppot and add onions, shallots, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until onions are softened and beginning to caramelize, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. When they start to stick to the bottom, add the tomatoes, herbs, water, and Armagnac. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove from heat and blend - in batches - until smooth. Fold in the zest and juice from the lemon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, heat more Armagnac in a small skillet and drizzle it into the individual soup bowls. Garnish with fresh herbs.


  1. I wonder why they outlawed it LOL....isn't it amazing how we humans used to think? And isn't it scary how some of us continue to think? Your tomato soup sounds stunning and I'm glad you didn't have to drown anything in the armagnac but your sorrows. Cheers Cam.

  2. Your soup looks delicious. I love your pairing. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Your soup looks delicious. I love your pairing. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Whoa! Glad you decided to use this traditional recipe and no birds were harmed in the production of this post!
    The soup sounds phenomenal - did you try it chilled?
    I love Armagnac too!

  5. Sounds like a delicious soup!

  6. Yikes...guess there was no SPCA back in the day! Your soup looks and sounds delicous! I've never tried Armagnac. I'll have to give a try!

  7. Armagnac sounds delicious and your soup looks wonderful! We'll have to keep our eyes out for a bottle!