First, I need to apologise to all those who had left comments and inquiries at @kokken the last few weeks. I had been out on business trip followed by my hiking vacation in the Alps and had limited access to wifi or internet.
Anyhow, as you can see, I am back and although I had to abandon the trek during the last couple of days due to bad knees and swollen toes, I have earned the bragging rights to have 1) hiked for the first time in my life and 2) trekked the European Alps and seen Mont Blanc!
On hindsight, I think I was a little foolhardy to have signed up for the 7 day expedition. I jumped onto the bandwagon because I had wanted to see the sceneries from the mountains and because I had naively believed that it would be like a stroll in nature. Little was I prepared for days that start with 4 continuous hours of uphill strive where at certain points of time, I swear I could hear my own heart beating in my ear drums and had thought I would just collapse. Just as I thought I would get a reprieve when the downhill trek began, my knees started to ache and inflame…. making me wish I could trade the downhill jaunt for the uphill huffing and puffing all over again. The first day was the worst but it got better over the days as I got more accustomed to the thin air climate and the breathing rhythm. At times, it felt like I had paid good money to buy torture but now, I kind of miss the daily morning routine of huffing and puffing up the hills. The sceneries were gorgeous and many would claim that it was totally worth slogging for but I will just stop at saying that the views were breathtaking and the hike was quite an experience…. Will I hike again? Sure, I think I would but next time, I will go for a shorter stint and make sure that I don’t start off the trek with bad knees.
This soup is inspired by what we ate in Switzerland at the end of the first 2 days of our hike. Hearty legumes soup with crusty bread and a chunk of soft cheese which we would shave into our soup. The whole famished group thoroughly enjoyed our bowls of soup and were surprised by the texture of the softened cheese in the soup. I wasted no time in sourcing for the cheese at the end of the hike. The Reblochon is a French cheese from the Alps region of Haute Savoie. A soft -medium hard cow cheese that melds well with a hearty soup. The Legumes I am using here is a combination of lentils, barley and white bean but one can practically use any kind of grains/beans to make this. Extremely easy to prepare, this is an insanely delicious and comforting soup especially on a cold fall or winter’s eve. (We were in the mountains so temperature was a cool 12-15C)
When we were hiking, our diet was primarily energy giving food like beans, bread, pasta and cheese. Dinners were wholesome but lunches tend to be quick and simple… and expensive. Stopping at the mountain restaurants during lunch breaks was always our highlight. It was a delightful break after all the hard work and the notion that we would be walking downhill after lunch lifted everyone’s spirit. On our first day, our lunch was a baguette sandwich with ham and cheese with water from the tap. As pathetic as it may sound, I swear, the simple ham and cheese sandwich lunch has never tasted better.
My most expensive and indulgent lunch in the mountains was this 16 euro mushroom and cheese omelette at my favourite lunch stop, Bovine on the Swiss side of the hike. Scenic and rustic with friendly staff, the Swiss are significantly more gracious and patient than the French. If you are tempted to accuse them of daylight robbing with a 16euro omelette, I was told by our guide that getting supplies in the mountains is expensive. They often need to rely on helicopters to drop in their supplies and take out their garbage – hence the high operating cost.
I am still sorting through my photos but it will not be long before I share them with you. Stay tuned!
- 2 Celery Sticks
- 4 Whole garlic cloves
- 1 Big onion, chopped
- 250g Mixed Legumes
- Salt and Pepper
- 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
- 2.5 liters Chicken stock
- Soak mixed legumes overnight in plenty of water.
- Rinse legumes in water and decant water.
- In a big pot, sweat onion, celery and garlic with olive oil. When the chopped vegetables start to turn golden brown, add legumes. Add Chicken stock.
- Bring mixture to boil and then lower heat and simmer for 45mins – 60mins. Season with salt and pepper.
- When done, you can either blend the soup to a fine pulp or serve it as it is. I blend a part of the soup.
- Serve with shavings of Reblochon and crusty bread.