I lived in Aix-en-Provence for six months after finishing up high school; Aix is a beautiful town in the South of France filled with picturesque courtyards outfitted with ancient fountains and majestic old mansions. I was supposed to be studying political sciences at the university, but I found the courses too depressing and spent my time roaming around the city’s cobblestone streets, eating succès (little cakes made of a hazelnut-flavored meringue and buttercream) and checking out the open-air marchés. I had a really cool neighbor, Anna, who was from Finland and in Aix to study French. (I reconnected with her thirty years later on Facebook).
Well, all of that to say that our landlady was a wonderful person who would leave me small plates of food (she probably thought I was starving) every day on the console by the front door. Among my favorite of her offerings was her velouté de légumes, a creamy potage of spring vegetables, as humble as can be, that I would just inhale.
It is Spring and so fitting to make a soup with just spring vegetables, simple and honest and comforting.
- 1 large onion or 2 stalks of leeks
- 2 large carrots
- 2 potatoes
- 2 turnips
- 1 large tomato
- 1 red pepper or 1/2 cup of red pepper paste
- 1 sprig of parsley, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of thyme
- salt, pepper to taste
- 4 cups of chicken stock or 2 chicken bouillon cubes
- 2 zucchinis
- 1 bunch of broccoli
- olive oil as needed
- Clean, peel, dice all the veggies.
- Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a big soup pot; add all the vegetables and stir every few minutes until they are softened.
- Add a quart of chicken stock or water and the two cubes, the sprig of parsley, garlic, and other herbs (thyme, bay leaf). Bring to a simmer and let the soup simmer gently for one hour.
- Puree in a blender either till creamy or till chunky. Taste to adjust seasoning and serve.
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