"Toujours une soupe le soir" is the refrain to the harvest songs which are the menus throughout French vineyard areas. It is an old-fashioned habit, but remains a favourite. Comforting, restorative after long days bent over vines or in the vat-houses, and, important to the cooks, soup takes the edge off appetites at modest cost.
Many and various are the vegetable soups made by harvest cooks, depending on what ingredients are in the garden or market. ‘Bonne femme’ (mainly onions, leeks and potatoes) and ‘potage Crécy’ (mainly carrots) are two old favourites among the thick soups. These creamy-textured soups do not need a stock base. In general, the peeled vegetables are chopped and sweated in butter, water is added, brought to the simmer and when the vegetables are soft but not sodden, the whole is put through a mouli-légumes, sieved or liquidised.
This unusual combination of vegetables gives an excellent, very fresh-tasting soup.
Five Vegetable Soup
Potage aux cinq legumes
FOR 6 PEOPLE
4 medium carrots 3 medium potatoes 2 medium turnips (the French purple and white variety)
1 round lettuce 3 leeks
30 - 45 g (1 - 11⁄2 oz) butter 1 litre (13⁄4 pints) water salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peel the root vegetables and wash the lettuce. Wash and trim the leeks. Chop everything roughly. Melt the butter in a pan, add the vegetables, cover and sweat for about 10 minutes. Add the water, bring to a simmer and leave to cook gently for 20 to 30 minutes. It is important not to overcook the vegetables. Put through the medium blade of a mouli-légumes or liquidise: the soup should not have too fine a texture. Taste and add seasoning. Heat through and serve, sprinkled with chopped parsley, and maybe a spoonful of cream stirred in at the last minute.