French style: How to make everyday soup

I almost never ate soup growing up in America and when I did, it was almost always Campbell’s. Here in France though, soup is an institution.

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I almost never ate soup growing up in America and when I did, it was almost always Campbell’s. Here in France though, soup is an institution. It’s one of the first things you feed your baby; it’s a common family entrée; and it’s dinner for many older people.

A while back my parents did cook up some French onion soup during a visit here. The recipe was a complex affair: 3 kinds of onions sautéed in butter, Kirsch, white wine, bouillon, eggs, flour, a special kind of cheese. They spent well over an hour, busy as bees, chopping, sautéing, deglazing, dirtying diverse pots and pans.

In the end, their soup was… well, it was pretty damn good. But it was so much work! No wonder they never make soup. And despite all the effort, it wasn’t that much different from my fast-and-easy version (don’t tell them).

That brings me to what I’d like to share with you this week: my French way to make everyday soup (disclaimer: lots of French people are purchasing packaged soup these days, hélas!) I’m a big fan of homemade soup – it’s healthy, economical and nurturing. It’s flexible and forgiving. I hope this simple approach will inspire you to cook up a nice pot and share it with some people you care about.

Everyday French style soup
Time: 10-15 to prepare, then 20-30 minutes to cook. 

  1. Cut up some vegetables (puréed soup is easiest, no need to cut veggies into small pieces).
  2. Sautée the vegetables (optional), cover with water or bouillon and add some salt don’t add too much liquid or the soup will be thin).
  3. Cook.
  4. Purée with a mixer or in the blender if needed.
  5. Stir in a couple of spoons of cream, butter, cream cheese or olive oil

Serve warm as is or top with chopped herbs, parmesan cheese or croutons. Bon appétitt!

Notes:

  • Potatoes and fresh pumpkin are always a good base. I usually add leak or onion, too.
  • Other vegetables: Squash, brocoli, spinach, carrot, tomato, fennel, cabbage… watch out for cerley and string bean strings in puréed soup.
  • For bean soup, soak the beans first and cook them ’til tender before adding other ingredients.
  • For non-puréed soup, you can add meat or boneless fish if you want. For slow-cooking meat, like hammock, cook it ’til tender before adding the other ingredients.
  • For grain or pasta, add the right amount of time before the end of cooking or just use leftovers.

Voilà.

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