Consommés are arguably the “nobility” of soups. With their clear, clean appearance and full flavors, these soups express “elegance.” The consommé below produces an elegant soup from inexpensive ingredients. Although there are many steps and much elapsed time in its preparation, this soup actually requires relatively little actual time in front of the stove. The results are both elegant to observe and elegant on the tongue.

consommé de poulet
3 T
olive oil
1+ kg (212 lb)
chicken wings, chopped into 3‑cm (1‑in) pieces
1
leek, diced
1
carrot, diced
1
onion, diced
2 cloves
garlic, crushed slightly
3 sprigs
flat‑leaf parsley
zest from 1
lemon
1
bay leaf
1 T
tomato paste
10
black peppercorns
212 l (212 qt)
water
2 large
egg whites, beaten
500 ml (2 c)
vegetable trimmings, finely cut
fine salt
4 t
finely chopped raw chicken meat [optional]
finely minced chives
1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Brown chicken wings. Alternately, brown chicken wings in a 260°C (500°F) oven for about 30 minutes.
2. Transfer chicken to a stock pot. Add leek, carrot, onion, garlic, parsley, zest, bay leaf, tomato paste, peppercorns, and water. Bring to a soft boil. Skim off any foam that forms. Reduce to low and simmer for about 2 hours until the liquid is reduced by about half.
3. Strain the stock through a fine strainer. Discard the contents of the strainer. Cool and remove any fat that collects on top of the chilled stock.
4. Return the stock to a saucepan. Combine the egg whites with the vegetable trimmings and add to the stock. Bring the combination to a low boil. When the stock is clear, carefully strain the stock through a fine strainer and then through a chinois.
5. Reheat stock in a saucepan. Taste for salt. Divide the chicken meat among the serving dishes. Divide the hot stock over the chicken and garnish with minced chives.
Yield: 4 servings.
Ref: Cuisine et Vins de France, September 2001, page 46.

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Although there are only a few common ingredients in this soup, the results are exquisite — bright, clean tasting, and quick.

crème crécy
2 T
unsalted butter
300 g (23 lb)
peeled, thinly sliced carrots
80 g (3 oz)
peeled, thinly sliced onion
300 ml (114 c)
water
salt and freshly ground white pepper
75 ml (13 c)
heavy cream
1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the carrot and onion slices. Fry until the carrots start to soften, about 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Add the water, season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Transfer the soup to a blender and puree until very smooth. Strain the puree into a clean saucepan and add the cream.
4. Reheat the soup just before serving.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Frédéric Médigue, Le Château d’Amondans, Amondans, France, 1995.

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This is a great soup for when the quality of the artichokes are not so pretty — simply trim away all the ugly parts. The final soup is pureed from the solid, cooked artichoke hearts causing their appearance to be of no importance.

crème d’artichauts
2 medium
whole artichokes
3 T
oil
12 medium
yellow onion, coarsely diced
1 stalk
celery, coarsely diced
40 g
white medium‑grain rice
500 ml (2 c)
chicken broth
2 T
hazelnuts
1 t
fine salt
12 t
ground white pepper
14 c
heavy cream
2 T
cognac
1. Cut the top half of each artichoke off and discard. Trim the stems and discard. Snap or cut off all the tough outer leaves until the tender, pale green leaves are reached. Carefully spread the leaves apart and, using a small spoon, remove the choke. Cut each artichoke into eighths and set aside.
2. In a sauce pan, heat the oil over medium‑high heat. Add onion and celery. Fry until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Add reserved artichoke, potato and chicken broth. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 205°C (400°F). Toast hazelnuts for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and rub skins with towel to remove. Coarsely chop and set aside.
5. Puree the soup in a blender. Strain to remove any remaining fibers.
6. Return soup to the saucepan. Add salt, pepper, cream and cognac. Bring to a simmer, stirring well to mix.
7. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with hazelnuts.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Gerald Hirigoyen, Bistro, 1995, page 20.

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The soup that results from this recipe is so thick that the decoration literally sits on top of the finished soup. Although the soup is thick, it is also very smooth and satisfying.

crème de chou-fleur au cerfeuil
1 T
butter
12 large
white onion, peeled and sliced
1 lb
cauliflower florets, cut into small pieces
700 ml (3 c)
water
fine salt
freshly grated nutmeg
12 very small
cauliflower florets
2 extra‑large
egg yolks, beaten
112 T
heavy cream
3 or 4 sprigs
fresh chervil
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add onions, cover, and cook without browning for about 10 minutes.
2. Add the chopped cauliflower to the saucepan, cover, and cook for a few minutes. Add water, salt, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes.
3. In the meantime, blanch the 12 small florets in salted water until just tender. Drain and refresh in cold water. Drain on absorbent paper. Set aside.
4. Puree the soup in a blender in two batches. Strain the puree and return it to a clean saucepan. Bring the puree to a boil. Whisk the egg yolks and cream together. Whisk a little of the hot soup into the egg‑cream mixture to temper it and then whisk the mixture into the soup. Continue stirring over low heat without allowing the soup to boil until it is thick. Taste for salt and add more as required.
5. Divide the soup into serving bowls. Decorate each bowl with 3 of the cooked florets and 3 chervil leaves.
Yield: 4 servings.
Ref: Roger Vergé, Roger Vergé’s Vegetables in the French Style, page 108.

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This simple soup only has a few common ingredients, but the walnuts make it truly unusual. And, unlike its cousin chestnut soup, this one has ingredients that are available all year ‘round.

crème de noix
80 g (3 oz)
walnuts
400 ml (123 c)
chicken stock
12 t
ground fennel seeds
80 ml (423 T)
heavy cream
2 t
cornstarch mixed with 1 T water
salt
1 T
chilled unsalted butter, diced
1. Place the walnuts in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Drain and repeat the blanching process two more times. Dry the drained walnuts on absorbent paper. When dry, grind to a fine powder.
2. Place the ground walnuts in a small saucepan along with the chicken stock and ground fennel seeds. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cream and bring again to a boil. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and stir until the soup thickens slightly. Test for salt.
3. Just before serving, reheat, and whisk in the butter. Emulsify and froth soup with an immersion blender and serve.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: ELLE à table, January‑March 2002, page 38.

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Bean soups may normally be thought of as being rustic, but this bean soup is as elegant as a soup can be.

crème soissonnaise
100 g (312 oz)
dried white beans, soaked in water overnight, drained
30 g (1 oz)
diced onion
50 g (123 oz)
diced leek
30 g (1 oz)
diced carrot
1
bouquet garni
350 ml (112 c)
chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper
1 T
heavy cream
2 T
chilled unsalted butter, diced
fine salt
1. Place the beans, vegetables, bouquet garni, and chicken stock in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Season with pepper, lower heat, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 to 112 hours.
2. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender and puree thoroughly. Strain the soup into a clean saucepan and reheat. Whisk in the cream. When the soup is near boiling, remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Salt to taste.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Frédéric Médigue, Le Château d’Amondans, Amondans, France, October, 1992.

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Garbure is a traditional winter soup made from common ingredients. This is a soup with lots of chunkies. It is hardy without being heavy. Great for cold days. And by reducing the amount of liquid, this soup becomes a vegetable stew.

The following recipe is adapted from what was reported to be a Parisian version of this traditional soup from the Béarn region of France where it is made with goose confit instead of smoked pork.

garbure
1 T
unsalted butter
14 small
onion, 5‑mm (14‑in) dice
12 stalk
celery, from the center, 5‑mm (14‑in) dice
12 small
carrot, 5‑mm (14‑in) dice
600 ml (212 c)
water
85 g (3 oz)
dried white beans, soaked in water overnight, drained
1 very small
smoked ham hock
2
bay leaves
12 t
ground sage
12 t
freshly ground black pepper
12 medium
turnip, peeled, 5‑mm (14‑in) dice
1 small
new potato, peeled, 5‑mm (14‑in) dice
about 1 c
green cabbage, 5‑mm (14‑in) by 25‑mm (1‑in) pieces
16
haricot vert, 5‑mm (14‑in) thick slices
coarse salt
2 slices
country‑style bread, toasted
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sweat the onion, celery, and carrot until they started to soften. Do not brown.
2. Add the water, beans, ham hock, bay leaves, sage, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.
3. Add the turnip, potato, and cabbage. Continue cooking until the turnip and potato start to get tender, about 10 minutes. Add the haricot vert and simmer 4 minutes longer.
4. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Remove the ham hock, cut the meat from the bone into 5‑mm (14‑in) dice, and add back to the soup. Discard the bone. Divide the soup among serving bowls, place a slice of bread on top of each bowl, and serve.
Yield: 2 servings as a main course or 4 as a first course.
Ref: Michael Roberts, Parisian Home Cooking, page 29.

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This soup could easily be called a stew because of the amount of solid ingredients in the final product. But there’s a lot of liquid so here it’s being classified as a soup. Either way, serve this soup with a couple of pieces of hearty bread for an excellent winter meal by itself.

marmite de bœuf aux pâtes
2 T
olive oil
375 g (13 oz)
beef, 1‑cm (38‑in) cubes (see note)
1 medium
onion, peeled, coarsely sliced
2 cloves
garlic, peeled, germ removed, crushed slightly
375 g (13 oz)
tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced
500 ml (2 c)
beef stock
14 t
dried, crushed, basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
50 g (134 oz)
dried pasta (any small shape)
fresh flat‑leaf parsley, chiffonade
1. Warm oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Brown beef. Remove of saucepan and set aside.
2. Add onions to the saucepan. Cook for about 5 minutes until they start to brown. Stir often. Add garlic and tomatoes, lower heat, and cook until the tomatoes loose their structure, about 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Return the meat to the saucepan. Add the stock and basil and increase heat to high. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes until the beef is starting to become tender.
4. Add the pasta and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes until the pasta is tender.
5. Adjust seasoning. Divide soup among serving bowls and decorate with parsley.
Note: If using for a main course, cut meat into 2‑cm (34‑in) cubes.
Yield: 2 servings as a main course or 4 as a first course.
Ref: Cuisine Gourmande & Vins, page 59.

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L’ABC de la Gastronomic Française defines bisque as a “thick shellfish soup, with white wine, Cognac, and fresh cream added.” The Larousse Gastronomique adds that the term bisque “suggests a connection with the Spanish province of Vizcaya, which lends its name to the Bay of Biscay.” It also states that bisques were originally boiled dishes of highly-spiced meat. Later, bisques were made with pigeons or quails and garnished with cheese and crayfish. In the 17th century, crayfish became the main ingredient. Later, other crustaceans were used for this dish.

The bisque recipe below is from Ali-Bab’s Gastronomie Pratique, written early in the 20th century. The recipe calls for a base of crayfish and chicken. As translated and tested below, the crayfish have been replaced with shrimp, which produce an equivalent flavor and are more readily available in my part of the world. Other crustaceans would work as well.

Typical of many recipes from a hundred years ago, but rare nowadays, the principal thickening agent of this soup is rice. Today, it is more common to find flour in the form of a roux or beurre manié used for thickening. In my opinion, the rice provides a smoother finish to the soup than is obtainable with a flour preparation.

One concession to modern times is the use of a food processor for pureeing the solids after cooking. In Ali-Bab’s time, a mortar and pestle were used to puree the solids.

potage à la bisque
25 g (1 oz)
short‑grain rice
400 ml (123 c)
chicken stock
450 g (1 lb)
whole shrimp, about 20 g (23 oz) each
1 T
unsalted butter
20 g (23 oz)
finely diced carrot
20 g (23 oz)
finely diced onion
1 sprig
fresh flat‑leaf parsley
1 sprig
fresh thyme
1 small leaf
fresh bay
coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
90 ml (6 T)
white wine
1 t
cognac, ignited
2 T
chilled unsalted butter, diced
3 T
heavy cream
1 extra‑large
egg yolk
fine salt
ground cayenne pepper
1. Place 200 ml (1312 T) of the chicken stock along with the rice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for an hour until the rice is very soft. Puree the rice mixture through a fine sieve. Return the puree to the saucepan and reheat. Puree further with an immersion blender and set aside.
2. In the meantime, peel half the shrimp reserving the tail meat in one bowl and the heads, bodies, feelers, legs, and shells in another with the unpeeled shrimp. Remove and discard the sand veins from the tail meat and discard. Cut the tail meat into 5‑mm (14‑in) cubes. Blanch the shrimp meat briefly in boiling, salted water. Drain well, chill in an ice bath, drain again, and set aside in the refrigerator.
3. Melt the tablespoon of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced carrot and onion and sweat for a couple of minutes. Add the parsley, thyme, and bay and mix. Add the unpeeled shrimp along with the peelings, increase the heat to high, and cook until they turn red.
4. Season with coarse salt and black pepper. Add 100 ml (634 T) of chicken stock plus the white wine and cognac. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
5. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Process the soup mixture in a food processor. Strain while pressing on the solids to capture as much of the soup as possible. Discard the solids.
6. Incorporate the shrimp soup with the rice mixture in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the last 100 ml (634 T) of chicken stock. Optional: for a smoother soup, puree the soup briefly with an immersion blender after adding the chicken stock. The soup may be prepared ahead of time up to this point.
7. If necessary, reheat the soup over medium heat. Whisk in the chilled butter. Combine the cream with the egg yolk. Temper this mixture with some of the hot soup and then add the mixture to the soup pot. Whisk together over high heat until the soup just barely starts to boil and is thickened slightly.
8. Divide the blanched shrimp meat between heated serving bowls. Test the soup for salt. Add a few grains of cayenne pepper. Divide the soup between the serving bowls.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Ali‑Bab, Gastronomie Pratique, page 240.

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potage aux champignons
240 g (8+ oz)
common mushrooms
1 T
unsalted butter
1 T
vegetable oil
pinch
fine salt
1 T
goose or duck fat
12 large
yellow onion, sliced
400 ml (123 c)
veal stock
200 ml (1312 T)
milk
salt and freshly ground white pepper
1. Cut 6, 3‑mm (18‑in) thick, sections from the largest mushrooms and set aside. Cut the remaining mushrooms into thin slices.
2. Melt the butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Slowly fry the mushroom sections until golden on both sides. Remove, drain on absorbent paper, and set aside.
3. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium frying pan over high heat. Fry the mushroom slices with a little salt until they begin to soften and give up some of their water. Drain in a strainer.
4. Melt the goose or duck fat in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion slices and cook, stirring often, until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked mushroom slices, veal stock, and milk. Increase heat, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Puree the soup in a blender in two batches. Strain the puree back into the saucepan and reheat. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Divide the soup among the serving bowls and decorate the surface with the browned mushroom sections.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Bernard Loiseau, Mes Recettes de Terroir, page 168.

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This soup has many levels of flavors. In a sense, it is a pureed choucroute garni, and a soup is not the form one normally eats this Alsatian dish. The original recipe dates back to the early twentieth century, and maybe even earlier.

potage crème de choucroute
350 ml (114 c)
chicken stock
80 g (scant 3 oz)
sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
40 g (113 oz)
smoky bacon, finely diced
10 g (13 oz)
dried porcini mushrooms, diced
80 g (scant 3 oz)
Russet potato, peeled, diced
6 thin, 3‑ml (18‑in), slices
knackwurst, cervelas, or other mild pork sausage, cooked
1 T
heavy cream
fine salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 sprig
fresh chervil [optional]
1. Place the stock along with the sauerkraut, bacon, mushrooms, and potato in a saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes.
2. If necessary, reheat the sausage slices. Set aside.
3. When the sauerkraut is tender, puree the soup in a blender. Strain into a clean saucepan and reheat. Whisk in the cream and add the salt and pepper.
4. Divide the soup among the serving bowls and decorate with the sausage slices. Place a small chervil leaf in the center of each bowl [optional].
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Ali‑Bab, Gastronomie Pratique, page 235.

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In France, soup is not just soup. What in English is called soup, in France may be called crème, velouté, or potage. If the soup is clear it may be a consommé. If the main ingredient is onions and there’s melted cheese on top, the soup may be called a gratinée. Without the cheese it may be called a tourain, but a tourain may also be made from garlic. If the soup is prepared in a particular pot called a marmite, then the soup may be called a marmite, too. (In other countries, a marmite may be thought of as more of a stew than a soup.) If the soup is thick, creamy, and made from crustaceans, then it may be called a bisque. If the soup is made from vegetables and ham, it made be called a garbure. Sometimes, just to provide more confusion, a soup in French is called a soupe.

Escoffier, in Le Guide Culinaire (1902), provided a strict classification system so that each different type of soup was defined and its name would always mean the same thing, but his system has not made it into general usage. Chefs today run fast and loose when naming soups. But this is nothing new, Escoffier complained that “It can be frequently seen, particularly in the case of thick soups, that the same [recipe] is used indiscriminately for bisque, purées, coulis, and veloutés as well as for crèmes, whereas each term should logically designate a particular preparation of which the [recipe] for each is totally different.” [A Escoffier, Le Guide Culinaire, (HL Cracknell, RJ Kaufman, translators), New York: Mayflower Books, 1982, page 65.]

The soup recipes presented in this article were culled from a variety of modern and traditional sources. Each is presented for making either two or four 225-ml (7-fl. oz.) servings. They represent a mere sampling of the many French soup recipes available — Escoffier alone presents over 400 soup recipes in Le Guide Culinaire — but they also represent the broad variety of soup types and ingredients found in French cuisine today.

• consommé de poulet

 chicken consommé

• crème crécy

 carrot soup

• crème d’artichauts

 artichoke soup

• crème de chou-fleur au cerfeuil

 cauliflower soup with chervil

• crème de noix

 walnut soup

• crème soissonaise

 white bean soup

• garbure

 vegetable and ham soup

• marmite de bœuf aux pâtes

 beef stew

• potage à la bisque

 shrimp soup

• potage aux champignons

 mushroom soup

• potage crème de choucroute

 sauerkraut and sausage soup

• potage crème veloutée de topinambours

 Jerusalem artichoke soup

• potage Parmentier

 potato-leek soup

• purée de céleri

 celery soup

• soupe de jus d’asperges verte

 asparagus soup

• soupe jardinière aux fèves

 garden vegetable soup

• tourain à l’ail

 garlic soup

• velouté d’épinards aux moules

 spinach soup with mussels

• velouté de pain, œuf canaille

 bread soup with a raw egg

• velouté de petits pois au lard croustillant

 pea soup with bacon

• velouté de poivron rouge et billes de chèvre frais

 sweet, red pepper soup with goat cheese

• velouté de tomates

 tomato soup

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potage crème veloutée de topinambours
200 g (7 oz)
peeled sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes), 3‑mm (18‑in) slices
15 g (12 oz)
tapioca
350 ml (112 c)
chicken stock
1 T
tomato puree
1 T
chilled unsalted butter, diced
2 T
heavy cream
1 extra‑large
egg yolk
fine salt and freshly ground white pepper
1. Place the sunchokes, tapioca, and chicken stock in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes until the sunchokes are soft and the tapioca is transparent.
2. Transfer the soup to a blender. Add the tomato puree and puree the soup until is it very smooth. Strain the puree into a clean saucepan.
3. If necessary, reheat the soup over medium heat. Whisk in the chilled butter. Combine the cream with the egg yolk. Temper this mixture with some of the hot soup and then add the mixture to the soup pot. Whisk together over high heat until the soup just barely starts to boil and is thickened slightly. Check for small pieces of sunchoke and, if necessary, strain the soup again.
4. Divide the soup among serving bowls.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Ali‑Bab, Gastronomie Pratique, page 247.

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Potato and leek soups are common in most of the cuisines of Europe. This version has a few subtle, extra touches that only a master chef like Joël Robuchon seems to be able to add.

potage Parmentier
3 T
unsalted butter
1 medium
leek, white portion with some green, well cleaned, 6‑mm (14‑mm) slices
14
onion, 6‑mm (14‑mm) slices
12 lb
russet potatoes, peeled, 12‑mm (12‑in) slices
375 ml (112 c)
chicken stock
20 g (2 oz)
pain de mie, 6‑mm (14‑in) cubes
60 ml (14 c)
heavy cream
fine salt and freshly ground white pepper
chervil leaves
1. Heat 2 T butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek and onion slices. Sweat for about 10 minutes.
2. Add the potato slices and stock to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 25 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
3. In the meantime, fry the bread cubes in the last tablespoon of butter over medium‑high heat until golden. Set aside.
4. Puree the soup in a blender. Strain back into the saucepan. Add cream and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Reheat if necessary.
5. Divide soup among serving plates. Decorate with chervil leaves and the fried bread cubes.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Joël Robuchon, Le Meilleur & Le Plus Simple de la Pomme de Terre, page 62.

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purée de céleri
200 g (7 oz)
celery, washed, sliced
1 T
unsalted butter
40 g (1716 oz)
medium‑grain white rice or rice flour
350 ml (112 c)
chicken stock
2 T
chilled unsalted butter, diced
salt
1. Blanch celery in boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain.
2. Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery and sweat for a couple of minutes without browning.
3. Add the rice and stock to the saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
4. Puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. Strain into a clean saucepan and reheat. Off the heat, whisk in the chilled butter and season with salt to taste.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Auguste Escoffier, Le Guide Culinaire, 1921, page 89.

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This simple soup is nothing more than asparagus juice that’s gently heated, seasoned with a little salt, and finished with a little butter. As shown below, the garnish is asparagus tips and chives, but many other garnishes will work just as well. What really separates this soup from other asparagus soups is that it is made from juice, not from pureed asparagus.

soupe de jus d’asperges verte
450 g (1 lb) medium to thick
green asparagus stalks
oil
fine salt
2 to 3 T
chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 t
minced chives
1. Reserve 4 to 6 of the best asparagus tips. If very thick, cut in half or thirds lengthwise. Set aside.
2. Preheat the serving bowls.
3. Heat a little oil in a frying pan. Add the reserved asparagus tips and a little water. Salt. Fry until cooked through. Drain and set aside.
4. In the meantime, juice the asparagus stalks. There should be about 250 ml (1 c) of juice. Heat the juice in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring often. Season with salt. When close to boiling, remove from heat and add chilled butter. Whisk to combine. When almost combined, froth with an immersion blender. Check again for salt.
5. Divide the cooked asparagus tips among the serving bowls. Ladle the soup over the tips. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Frédéric Médigue, Le Château d’Amondans, May, 2000.

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This vegetable soup can be prepared in 30 minutes from start to serving. What could be simpler? (And it tastes great!)

soupe jardinière aux fèves
1 T
unsalted butter
1 small
leek, white part only, well cleaned, quartered lengthwise, 5‑mm (14‑in) dice thick slices
12 stalk
celery, from the center, 5‑mm (14‑in) dice
12 small
carrot, 5‑mm (14‑in) dice
350 ml (112 c)
water
12 t
coarse salt
fresh ground black pepper
1
bay leaf
12 t
fresh thyme leaves
12 lb
fava beans, shelled and peeled
1 small
new potato, peeled, 5‑mm (14‑in) dice
8
haricot vert, 5‑mm (14‑in) thick slices
12 T
minced fresh chervil
12 T
minced, fresh flat‑leaf parsley
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sweat the leek, celery, and carrot until they start to soften. Do not brown.
2. Add the water, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil.
3. Add the fava beans and potato. When the soup comes back to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the fava beans start to get tender, about 10 minutes. Add the haricot vert and simmer 4 minutes longer.
4. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Mix in the chervil and parsley. Divide the soup among serving bowls and serve.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Michael Roberts, Parisian Home Cooking, page 45.

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This is another traditional French soup. It originally was made mostly with onions, but it is not uncommon nowadays to find it with garlic as in the following version. Cooked in this manner, the garlic becomes sweet and the soup, light.

tourain à l’ail
1 T
olive oil
35 g (about 3 T)
finely diced garlic
2 T
all‑purpose flour
1 l (1 qt)
boiling water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
112 T
red wine vinegar
1 extra‑large
egg, separated
6 to 9 thin slices
French baguette, lightly toasted
finely chopped fresh flat‑leaf parsley [optional]
1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over low heat. Fry garlic until softened.
2. Add flour and whisk until well mixed. Add boiling water, a bit at a time and mix thoroughly. When all the water is added, salt and pepper to taste. Add vinegar, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Whisk egg white in a mixing bowl. Whisk in a cup of soup and then return mixture to soup pot. Stir briskly with whisk. Partially cover and simmer 10 minutes longer.
4. Whisk egg yolk in a mixing bowl. Whisk in 1 cup of soup and then return mixture to soup pot. Do not allow soup to boil.
5. Place pieces of bread in the bottom of soup bowls and pour soup over bread. Garnish with parsley.
Yield: 2 to 3 servings.
Ref: Pierre Franey, Pierre Franey’s Cooking in France, 1994, page 104.

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velouté d’épinards aux moules
1 T
unsalted butter
12 small
onion, diced
1 clove
garlic, diced
200 g (7 oz)
fresh spinach, coarsely diced
350 ml (112 c)
vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T
white wine
10
fresh mussels, cleaned, beards removed
1 extra‑large
egg yolk
100 ml (12 c)
heavy cream
1 T
chilled unsalted butter, diced
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and mix. Add the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat, season with salt and pepper, and simmer, partially covered, until the spinach is tender, about 10 minutes.
2. In the meantime, bring the wine to a full boil in another saucepan. Add the mussels and cook, covered, until they are all open, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain. Remove the mussels form the shells. Discard the shells and reserve the mussels in a warm place.
3. Puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. Strain the soup into a clean saucepan.
4. Beat the egg yolk with half the cream. Temper the mixture with a little of the soup. Add the yolk mixture to the soup and whisk over medium high heat until the soup thickens. Do not boil. Add the remaining cream. Whisk in the chilled butter.
5. Divide the soup among the serving plates. Arrange 5 mussels on the surface of each serving.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Cuisine Gourmande & Vins, September‑October 2001, page 33.

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Bread is not normally thought of a main ingredient for a soup. Loaves of bread were used as soup bowls during the middle ages and bread has been a common accompaniment to soups since the earliest of times. So why not make a soup from bread?

velouté de pain, œuf canaille
20 g (23 oz)
smoked bacon, 5‑mm (14‑in) pieces
350 ml (123 c)
chicken stock
1 very thin slice
bacon
120 g (14+ lb)
country‑style bread, cut into 2‑cm (34‑in) slices
2 extra‑large
eggs
100 ml (7 T)
milk
12 T
sherry vinegar
1 t
Dijon‑style mustard
25 g (2 T)
chilled butter, diced
fine salt and freshly ground pepper
4 stalks
fresh chives, 3‑cm (1‑in) long pieces
1. Preheat oven to 240°C (465°F).
2. Fry bacon pieces in a small saucepan over medium heat until it starts to take on color. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and infuse for 1 hour.
3. Place the thin slice of bacon on a parchment‑lined baking sheet. Cover the bacon with an additional piece of parchment and then with a couple more baking sheets. It may be necessary to invert the bottom sheet so the bacon is squeezed flat. Bake until the bacon is brown and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Set the cooked bacon aside on a cooling rack until needed.
4. Bake the bread slices until brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the slices over when they are about half cooked. Set aside until needed.
5. Wash the eggs in their shells and set aside.
6. When the stock has infused for an hour, strain out the bacon pieces and discard. Combine the stock with the milk and bread in a blender. Puree until smooth, about 2 minutes.
7. Strain the puree into a saucepan, add the vinegar and mustard, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the butter.
8. Divide the soup among the serving plates. Carefully break each egg. Put the yolk in half of the shell and carefully place in the center of the soup. Decorate with half a bacon slice and half the chives.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Pascal Barbot, Cuisine Gourmande & Vins, September‑October 2001, page 12.

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velouté de petits pois au lard croustillant
112 T
unsalted butter
1 medium
yellow onion, 3‑mm (18‑in) slices
300 g (scant 34 lb)
shelled English peas
130 g (423 oz)
russet potato, peeled, 3‑mm (18‑in) slices
450 ml (scant 2 c)
chicken stock
1 t
granulated sugar
12 medium
basil leaves
4 very thin
bacon slices
3 T
heavy cream
salt and freshly ground white pepper
1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sweat onions until soft, but not colored. Add peas, potato, stock, sugar, and basil leaves. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp in a non‑stick frying pan. Set aside on absorbent paper.
3. Puree soup in a blender. Strain and return to the saucepan. Add cream and season. Reheat.
4. Divide soup among heated serving bowls. Garnish with bacon.
Note: Strips of smoked ham may be substituted for the bacon.
Yield: 4 servings.
Ref: Cuisine et Vins de France, no. 68, May, 2000, page 50.

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velouté de poivron rouge et billes de chèvre frais
2 T
olive oil
400 g (1 lb)
red bell peppers, cored, 3‑cm (1‑in) squares
1
onion, peeled, coarsely sliced
1 clove
garlic, peeled, crushed
250 g (12 lb)
tomatoes, seeded and diced
600 ml (212 c)
water
12 T
dehydrated chicken stock
coarse salt
freshly ground white pepper
125 g (14 lb)
fresh goat cheese
2 T
finely minced fresh chives
2 T
finely minced fresh basil
fine salt
1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the peppers and the onions. Fry for about 5 minutes until they start to brown and soften. Add tomatoes and garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
2. Add the water, chicken stock, coarse salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes.
3. In the meantime, mash the goat cheese, chives, and basil in a bowl until mixed. Divide the mixture into 12 portions and roll each into a small ball. Refrigerate until needed.
4. When the soup is cooked, puree in a blender and strain.
5. Reheat soup if necessary. Salt to taste. Divide soup among the serving bowls. Place 3 cheese balls in each bowl.
Note: The soup may be livened up with a few drops of Tabasco sauce.
Yield: 4 servings.
Ref: Cuisine Actuelle, March, 2002, page 55.

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velouté de tomates
12 T
olive oil
1 small
onion, sliced
1 clove
garlic, chopped
1 sprig
fresh thyme, without stem
1 small
dried bay leaf
1 T
tomato paste
700 g (112 lb)
plum tomatoes, seeded, cut into eighths
12 t
granulated sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper
12 c
chicken stock
14 c
heavy cream
a few
chervil leaves
1. Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat a bit.
2. Add the garlic, thyme, bay, tomato paste, and tomatoes. Season mixture with the sugar, salt and pepper. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
3. Remove bay leaf and discard. Puree mixture in a blender and strain back into the saucepan.
4. Just before serving, reheat and incorporate cream. Check the seasoning.
5. Divide among serving bowls and garnish with chervil leaves.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Le Cordon Bleu Soupes, page 15.

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©2002, 2014 Peter Hertzmann. All rights reserved.