September 12 Feast of the Holy Name of Mary

by Gordon Nary

The Annunciation by Fra Angelico

There is a legend of how Mary invented a process of cooking in which one vessel containing food was placed in another vessel containing water which was then heated. The vessel containing the heated water was called a bainmarie (literally, a "Mary bath") and has been used as a cooking process for at least two thousand years. The recipe for Potage à la vierge (Virgin Mary's soup) was so named because of its whiteness, representing purity, and its method of preparation in a double boiler is one form of cooking in a bainmarie (also called a bain-marie).

Potage à la vierge (Virgin Mary's Soup)

Special Equipment

Double boiler


6 eggs 6 cups chicken stock 1/2 cup dried fresh white bread crumbs 2 poached chicken breasts, skinned, and boned 16 blanched almonds pealed

3/4 cup whipping cream salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste 6 slices of stale white bread (without crusts) cut into 2-inch squares


  1. Boil eggs for 9 minutes. Place under running cold water to cool. Removes hells and whites, retaining only the yolks.

  2. Place bread crumbs and 1&1/2 cups bouillon in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

  3. In a food processor, puree chicken breasts, almonds, egg-yolks, and stock containing bread crumbs. Add 1/2 cup cream, salt and pepper. Place puree in the top of a heated double boiler to keep warn. Do not let boiling water touch bottom of upper part of boiler

  4. Heat remaining stock over low heat for 15 minutes. After first 5 minutes, add bread squares to stock.

  5. While stock is heating, whip 1/4 cup whipping cream for garnish.

  6. Remove stock/bread mixture from heat. Whisk in puree. Garnish with whipped cream and serve immediately.

Serves 6

© 2012 Gordon Nary

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