Soupe aux Légumes de Maman


In the summer, we eat our soups chilled, in the winter piping hot and very often as a main course of the lighter evening meal. The theory goes that the French, who eat soup up to five times a week for dinner, eat better and less. We have a decent breakfast, a full lunch and a less elaborate (but no less flavorful) dinner. The evening soup eater tends to consume less fat and less food overall, feeling satiated through the night, after which she needs “a real meal” on rising to get her through the morning.

We had a dozen variations on the vegetable soup theme based on whatever was growing in the garden that season. My mother typically made vegetable soup on Thursdays for lunch, and as she had more time to cook that day, would serve the soup with both potatoes pancakes (for the ladies in the family) as well as apple pancakes (which the men preferred). (Don’t ask: my mother was always indulging the boys.) Her soup was judged “the best,” according to my aunts and cousins because of her final touches.


4 leeks
1 small cabbage
3 celery ribs
2 turnips
2 cups canned (whole or chopped) tomatoes
4 carrots
2 medium potatoes, 12 ounces total
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of parsley
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Yield: 8 Servings


Wash potatoes, peel and slice roughly. Place in a small pot, water to cover. Add garlic and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer till tender (about 10 minutes). Wash all other vegetables and slice or dice them. Melt the 2 ounces of butter in a large pot and “sweat” all the vegetables stirring often (5 minutes). This procedure eliminates the more aggressive aromas of fresh vegetables. Add the potatoes and garlic. Add water to cover and continue to cook until all vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaves. Purée drained vegetables in food mill using the fine grating disc, reserving the cooking water to be poured over to thin the soup to the consistency you like (it shouldn’t be too liquid or too thick).