Fernando Botero is undoubtedly the most known Colombian artist, renowned for his paintings and sculptures of voluptuous, inflated subjects. Botero was influenced by Francisco de Goya and Diego Velazquez. His work in the early years was inspired by pre-Colombian and Spanish colonial art and the political murals of Mexican artist Diego Rivera. Throughout the 1950s Botero developed his signature style – “Boterismo”, which is characterised by oversized and bloated figures of people and animals. In his paintings, he typically uses flat, vibrant colours and boldly outlined forms, inspired by Latin-American folk themes. Many of his paintings have comic qualities, but he also reflected the violence in Colombia and used political satire in his art.
His series of paintings and drawings from 2005, called “Abu Ghraib”, was inspired by reports of abuse and torture in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison by American forces and caused a huge outrage in the United States.
“My work is a self-portrait of my mind, a prism of my convictions.”
– Fernando Botero
When I was a child I loved Botero’s paintings. There were simply hilarious to me, for example, “Card Players”, with two gentlemen and a voluptuous nude lady playing (strip?) poker or such, in the background there’s a man peeping from behind the curtain; or his parody of “The Arnolfini” after Van Eyck and the “Mona Lisa” of da Vinci where a mysterious woman turns into a chubby, happy lady.
“Still life with green soup” is one of the funny Botero’s paintings. There’s a fat cat walking on the table probably trying to steal some food. He’s obviously there to disturb the serene and cosy atmosphere of the setting and he’s looking straight at us as if to challenge or call for attention.
I had been wondering what that green soup could be. My own cat, Pumba, has a peculiar taste for human food. He loves olives, pumpkin, coconut milk, and herbs in particular: coriander, mint, chives.
I thought chervil soup would be suitable, one of the greenest of the soups. Chervil soup a typical spring soup in Belgium and gets served even in the best restaurants. It’s simple but very refined and has a unique delicate herby flavour; can be eaten cold and is very refreshing during the hot days.
I decided to add some “edge” to my chervil soup, so I made it with watercress which is quite sharp of taste but pares nicely with chervil. This soup also goes great with some garlic toasts.
Chervil is a delicate annual herb related to parsley and has a faint taste of liquorice and aniseed. It belongs to the group of four traditional French herbs called “ fines herbes”, along with tarragon, chives, and parsley. Cooking destroys chervil’s mild flavour, so add it to your soup after turning the fire off. Chervil is a lovely addition to vinaigrettes, salads, and eggs.
For the soup
- 100g chervil, whole
- 100g watercress, thin stalks with leaves
- 1 leek, white part only, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 potatoes, cut into cubes
- 1,5L vegetable bouillon
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
For the garlic toasts
- baguette or ciabatta
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
Wash the chervil and watercress in a sink with plenty of water. Spin in a lettuce dryer or let it drain. Make sure there is no dead plants or dirt in between. Break off the thick stalks of watercress.
Sauté onion and leek in a soup pot with olive oil over medium heat until soft.
Pour 1,5 litre vegetable stock into the soup pot and add potato cubes. Cook for about 15 minutes. When potatoes are soft turn the fire off and add chervil and watercress. Carefully blend the soup with a hand blender. Season with fresh black pepper.
Serve with garlic toasts.
Heat the oven grill. Mince the garlic and blend with the desired amount of olive oil. Slice the bread and brush each piece on one side with the olive oil mixture. Place the bread in the oven the oil side up. Toast until golden brown.