Cooking with the Collection: Pablo Picasso’s Herb Soup

This regular series uses the Akron Art Museum’s collection as a source of inspiration for meals to cook at home. Links to recipes at the end of the post.

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Le Modele, Pablo Picasso, (Malaga, Spain, 1881–1973, Mougins, France), 1965, Aquatint and drypoint on paper, 18 1/2 in. x 24 in. (46.99 cm x 60.96 cm), Gift of Mrs. George Nobil in honor of her Husband, Mr. George Nobil, 1966.60

Pablo Picasso met Jacqueline Roque in 1953 at Madoura Pottery in Vallauris, Southern France, when she was 26 years old and he was 72. Jacqueline’s image began to appear in Picasso’s paintings and is characterized by an exaggerated neck & feline face, distortions of her features. Eventually, her dark eyes and eyebrows, high cheekbones, and classical profile would become familiar symbols in his late paintings. In 1963 he painted her portrait 160x and continued to, in increasingly abstracted forms, until 1972.

The printmaking process Picasso used to create this portrait is called aquatint because finished prints often resemble watercolor drawings or wash drawings. The process achieves a broad range of tonal values — the light or dark of a color — which is the most important design element of a painting. The drypoint line drawings are reminiscent of Picasso’s uniform of his later years, the Breton striped shirt.

As a docent & studio art educator at Akron Art Museum, you’ll see hints of my favorite black & white stripey shirts in-studio lesson photographs. The iconic style was a staple in the wardrobes of other creatives like F. Scott Fitzgerald & James Dean. The Breton shirt was created officially by French law in 1858 for their Navy. The contrasting stripes made any sailor who fell overboard easier to spot in the waves.

Are you ready to fall overboard for soup?

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Pablo Picasso’s Herb Soup

This recipe is about to carry you from the South of France to heaven on waves of tasty tonal values. Lentils & mushrooms simmered in white wine, create a flavorful, earthy broth, while salty olives & capers lift your tastebuds, taking off on sweet, stewed tomatoes …until fragrant herbes de Provence carry you away with the clouds on a lazy, summer day. herbes de Provence thyme. savory. oregano. marjoram. rosemary. lavender.

3 tbls EVOO – divided
1 small onion – diced
3 garlic cloves – minced
3 cups water
1 cup dried French green (or brown) lentils
1 1/2 tsp herbes de Provence
8 oz cremini mushrooms – sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
14 oz can diced tomatoes
3 tbls tomato paste
1/2 cup olives
2 tbls capers

1. 1 tbls EVOO in medium pot. medium heat
2. add onion. sauté 5 minutes
3. add garlic. sauté 1 minute
4. add water, lentils, & herbes de Provence. bring to boil
5. lower heat. cover. simmer 30–35 minutes
while lentils are simmering…
6. 2 tbls EVOO in a sauté pan. medium heat
7. add mushrooms. even layer. sauté each side 5 minutes.
remove to plate
…back to the soup
8. add wine to the pot. raise heat to simmer. cook 4 minutes
9. add mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato paste, olives, & capers to the pot
10. simmer soup 5–10 minutes. season with S&P

serves 4

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Cooking with the Collection is made possible with support from Acme Fresh Market, the Henry V. and Frances W. Christenson Foundation, and the Samuel Reese Willis Foundation.