More Than Just Soup!
Updated: Mar 13
Soups are easy to do and good for you. They can be light; they can be hearty – You choose.
When I had my restaurant, people loved my soups. They would come on specific days for specific soups, and many, many of them told me, “I never thought I would ever like soup. I love your soups! How can soup be so good?”
We have to go back hundreds of years to find the origin of the soup.
Soup, in French, is "soupe", but also "potage". That’s important to know. Why?
SOUPE (French) or POTAGE (French)
Pots used to be made out of pottery, and in "pottery", we would cook “potage”, a soup made with vegetables.
You see and you hear the word “pot” in “potage”.
What’s the difference between “soupe” and “potage”?
Soupe usually has a base of meat broth.
Potage is made with vegetables from “potager”, the vegetable garden.
Potage refers to vegetables cooked in a pot, and those vegetables come from a "potager", in French, which again, is the vegetable garden.
So, you see, it’s all about vegetables.
The agricultural revolution started around the 11th century in France, and that is when vegetable soups became really popular.
Of course, the discovery of a new continent in the 16th century brought new vegetables to Old Europe.
By the 18th century, many street vendors in Paris were selling their thin vegetable soups or broths as a healthy dish, a dish meant to restore your health. Soon thereafter, you could actually go to a store to have a bowl of that potion that supposedly restored you. And those places were named (or sometimes renamed) "restaurants", where your health could be restored. The soup that was served there would bring you back to shape.
And that might be the true origin of soup, but also of the word restaurant.
Almost all the “potages”(the vegetable soups) that I like to prepare have a potato base. The potato has the starch needed to thicken the soup and make it smooth. You should never have to use any flour in a soup. The starch from the potato does the job.
Also, you should never have more potatoes than the actual vegetable that defines your soup. That’s a basic rule. Whether it is a tomato soup, a carrot soup, a celery soup, or any other soups, the rule and the procedure are very much the same.
You can experiment with many vegetable soups, but try not to add too many ingredients, because you may very easily lose the taste of the vegetable that defines your soup.
A tomato soup should be a burst of tomato. A leek and potato soup should remain true to the leek.
That’s a tendency that we have sometimes, to add too many ingredients, but the goal should always be to focus on what characterizes the soup, in other words, the primary taste.
You see, cooking is very different from baking. When you bake, you add flour, butter, sugar, and that makes a whole cake. You should never taste one ingredient predominantly.
However, when you cook a soup, you should definitely taste the tomato more than the potato if you call it a cream of tomato or a tomato soup.
And remember, a soup can be a meal by itself. You can reduce or increase the amount of water in the recipe to make it either thick or thin. You can reduce or increase the amount of cream to make it rich or lean.
Have fun experimenting with soups, and, for a good leek and potato soup, please try my recipe at:
Feel free to substitute the leeks with any other veggies. It will work! Bon appétit!