Why have I hesitated to share this Pure Vegetable Soup? Well, for a start, it’s just vegetable soup, right?
Moreover, this isn’t a recipe I’ve developed myself. Apart from a few different vegetables, there’s no need to change anything from Raymond Blanc’s original recipe in my favourite cookbook, “Mange“. When I first received a signed copy of it as an Engagement present in 1996, I was terrified: the French gourmet recipes for guests all looked complicated. Surely it was too difficult for me to try. However, years later, I realised with a little, insy-winsy bit of confidence, they were much easier than they looked.
So why am I sharing this recipe – apart from that I’m needing soup today on a surprisingly cold and miserably wet last day of April, following the most incredible heatwave in Paris?
Chunky Pure Vegetable Soup
The answer is simple. This soup is pure fresh vegetable genius.
These days, I normally blend soups to a smooth velouté or chowder consistency (see pumpkin & leek, mushroom cappuccino, smoked garlic and arugula (rocket), curried cauliflower with scallops, or sweetcorn and red pepper soups, for example), so that serving this chunky almost seems daring. Is this life in the fast lane, darlings?
I served this to my French (Corsican) parents-in-law last week, as they’re total soup addicts like myself. Madeleine gave it a classic nod of approval, but she seemed surprised: they had soup with chunks in it growing up in Corsica. You know what? Me too! I remember the chunky Scotch Broth (Janice has a good recipe at Farmersgirl Kitchen) with lamb and good old Lentil Soup (Christina has another good recipe with barley at Christina’s Cucina) with a large ham shank, when I was growing up in Scotland.
Somehow, going back to the “bits in it” is somehow satisfying and, while not a thick, hearty soup, the freshness of the herbs makes this a welcome starter at only 55 calories a bowl. That’s before we add ripped off hunks of crispy French baguettes and lightly salted Normandy butter.
Fresh Vegetable Soup without the Stock
The secret to this recipe is the freshest of vegetables and respecting the short cooking time. I know it’s tempting to use up these veggies at the bottom of the fridge that may be starting to wilt but please don’t! Honestly, if you use extra fresh, there’s no need for any vegetable or chicken stock – just the butter gives that added French touch and brings out the taste of the herbs, just thrown in at the end of cooking. Chervil is best if you can find it, otherwise flat-leafed parsley is good.
A quick, chunky and healthy soup recipe that's perfect for any time of year, using the freshest seasonal vegetables and herbs
- 20 g / 0.75oz Butter unsalted
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots finely sliced
- 2 medium leeks outer leaves discarded, finely sliced
- 1 small turnip (French navet) finely chopped into cubes
- 2 ripe tomatoes chopped
- 1 litre / 1.75 pints water
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper according to taste
- bunch fresh parsley or chervil roughly chopped (stalks removed)
In a large pan, gently melt the butter over a medium heat (don't allow it to brown). Sweat the peeled onion, carrots, and leeks gently for about 5 minutes.
Add the water, the turnip, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, skimming off any impurities (foam) then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for up to 15 minutes until the vegetables are softened. Add the tomatoes and chopped fresh herbs, cooking for another minute.
Inspired by Raymond Blanc's Fresh Vegetable Soup with Chervil recipe in his book, Mange. If you prefer your soups smooth, then liquidise with a hand blender or food processor.
As I personally don't like celery, I have replaced one stalk of it with an extra leek - and adapt the vegetables according to season. You could also use vegetable or chicken stock in place of the water but I find it's not necessary when using the fresh herbs.