Soup by Any Name is Good

BY Susan Hallett TIMEOctober 16, 2013 PRINT

Fall means soup-time to many people. According to the 18th century Dictionnaire de Trevoux, the word soupe is French but “extremely bourgeois.” In those days it was more sophisticated to serve potage.

By “soupe,” French people usually mean clear broths which may have minced herbs or diced meats or vegetables added, while “potage” is a more subtle mixture in which the broth is thickened with egg yolks and cream, a starch, or a vegetable puree, and that often has various garnishes as well.

In Italy any soup containing pasta, rice, or potatoes is called minestra; all other broths are called zuppa whether they are thickened or not.

Here are two recipes for soup lovers:

Brunoise (a French “soupe”)

1 small onion
2 small carrots
1 turnip
2 small leeks
3 stalks celery
50 ml (4 tbsp) butter
5 ml (1 tsp) sugar
2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
250 ml (1 cup) broth
125 ml (1/2 cup) cooked peas
Fresh minced chervil for garnish

Wash vegetables. Scrape the carrots, peel the turnip, and then mince or dice them along with the other vegetables. Put vegetables (excluding the peas) in a pan with the butter and sprinkle with sugar and salt. Heat, then cover and cook gently for 10 minutes. Stir often. Cook until vegetables are golden, then add broth and simmer for l5 minutes. Just before serving, stir and pour into six bowls, add peas, and sprinkle with chervil.

Potage Longueville (cream of vegetable)

2 litres (8 cups) frozen peas
2 leeks, chopped
2 heads of lettuce
500 ml to 750 ml (2 to 3 cups) chicken bouillon
Salt and pepper
4 egg yolks
50 ml (4 tbsp) thick cream
250 ml (1 cup) cooked macaroni, drained and shredded

Cook peas, leeks, and lettuce in boiling salted water. Drain and mash vegetables. Blend a little of the cooking water into the puree and force through a sieve or blend in a blender. Mix with chicken bouillon until a thin cream-like consistency results. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil in a deep saucepan. Simmer for a few minutes. Skim. Beat egg yolks and cream together and slowly blend in. Strain through a cheesecloth, then add cooked macaroni. Serves 8.

Susan Hallett is an award-winning writer and editor who has written for The Beaver, The Globe & Mail, Wine Tidings, and Doctor’s Review, among others. She is currently the European editor of Taste & Travel International. Email:

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