Monday, April 27, 2009

Vegetable Soup

veg at market I usually buy all my fruit and vegetables at the market on a Saturday morning.  Mostly I buy from a local producer or I buy from Laurent, a greengrocer who buys off small local farmers to save them having to invest the time in attending market with maybe one product.   He also brings in things from Spain, like oranges and strawberries and very occasionally from further afield.... By buying like this, I get to pick the freshest produce available each week.   Don't forget, of course, that the Spanish border is nearer to me than Paris.

Some weeks, I find that my plans have changed and I have a wide selection of vegetables left over when Saturday morning comes round again.

Since I moved to France nearly 5 years ago I have developed my own "Potage" which solves this problem perfectly.  "Potage" is the name given to a soup made from vegetables grown in the "Potager" or vegetable garden.

potage I make the soup in a slow cooker which allows all the tastes to develop and blend.

The problem of left over vegetables occured last week and by yesterday I had a lot left.... So, I made the soup today, using....cauliflower, celery, celeriac, pumpkin, onion, carrot, Swiss chard, courgette, lemon, fennel seeds, sunflower seeds......

I think that was all...  I added a big dose of herbes de provence , a good teaspoonful of Marmite (yeast extract) and about 500ml (US Pint) of salted water and the same of a light lager type beer.   It then cooked for about 7 hours on the high setting, with just an occasional stir....

Today, I also went through the fridge and emptied all the odd sauce bottle ends into the pot.... but I didn't put any garlic in as I was running low...  That is the beauty of this soup....anything that you have goes in and if you don't have it, it doesn't matter.

At the end of cooking I assess what the soup looks like and what I feel like.....  sometimes I will blend the whole lot down to produce a rich thick soup....others I will serve it as it is, with juicy bits of vegetables in a glorious liquid stock.  Then, I will serve what I need and pot the rest, ready to cool and freeze.

However, a word of warning to those of you who are used to following recipes.....   This way of cooking, simply using what is available and, perhaps, even including things because they "need using up", can produce some truly superb results.   Your family may well ravenously finish the pot and demand you make it again very soon.... And there, my friends, is the problem....because of the very nature of the way the ingredients are chosen, you will never make another one which is exactly the same!

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