The duck soup saga — Day Two

You’ll remember (possibly) that on Day One of our saga we went to the Sarlat market and bought the necessary ingredients for my wife Jan’s duck soup. Today, Mr. Duck goes to the chopping block.

The starting point for a large pot of duck soup is having the right mix of meat and bones — two carcasses and a cuisse, or a whole duck leg including the thigh. To get the carcasses to fit into a pot (remember that ducks are relatively long), Jan first splits each of them in two, and then chops them up a bit more.  To split the carcasses, she simply grabs hold and pulls. Here’s how it all begins:

First split

Pulling the duck carcass into two large pieces.

With a bit of pulling, the two halves of the duck carcasse separate. Like this:

Split carcass

Here's how it looks as it's split in two.

Now it’s time for some cleaning. Although the carcass has been stripped of most of the duck meat, there are a few things inside the carcass that we can do without — bits of various organs, for instance. So Jan moves in with her paring knife and scrapes away at the inside of the carcass, like this:

Cleaning the duck

Tidying up the duck carcass.

Finally, while still on the chopping block (okay, cutting board), she hacks through the carcasses to break them into more manageable chunks for the soup pot. It’s like this:


Each half of the carcass gets another chop or two.

Then it’s simply a matter of putting all the bones, plus the duck leg, into a soup pot and adding enough water to barely cover everything. At this point, there’s no seasoning, no vegetables; she is just making a meaty-tasting stock. So Jan puts the pot lid on, brings the water to the boil, slides the pot lid slightly to one side, and then simmers the whole mix for about an hour and a half. Here’s how it looks when it’s getting started:

Duck bones

A tempting mix of raw duck bones and water.

When all that cooking is done, Jan takes the pot off the heat and lets the stock cool. It now looks like this:


After cooling, the bones are taken out and the meat is stripped off.

Once the stock has cooled down, Jan removes all the bones and picks them clean of their meat (there is a surprising amount left on the carcasses), and also takes the meat off the duck leg that she’s cooked along with the bones. Then the lid goes on the pot, and the pot goes off to the refrigerator to chill overnight. That allows the fat to rise to the top, so Jan can remove it easily and start the final preparations for the soup.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. That part of the saga comes on Day Three.

This entry was posted in French food, Life in southwest France, Markets in France. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The duck soup saga — Day Two

  1. Double D says:

    You could have called the blog “Hey honey what’s for lunch next Thursday?” We at Double D are impressed with the dedication, foresight and commitment to dinner so far in the future. Well done and it looks very tastey.

  2. Loren says:

    Thanks, Double D. Just remember that I truly earned my Contrada name — VP Lunch. You don’t get a name like that by being casual about something as important as the mid-day meal, whether you’re on a bike trip or not.

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