A Simple Soup Recipe

Une Simple Soupe

[A Simple Soup]

Is the weather cold and chilly and rainy and overcast (check all that apply)? Does it make you a little gloomy? Have you somewhat over-indulged during the holidays? Do you feel a little guilty? These are all perfectly benign symptoms, don’t you worry. All you need is a nice, warm, chunky bowl of soup.

The recipe that follows is not set in stone by any means. I just made it with these vegetables because they were the ones I had on hand, leftover from other recipes. But somehow, this random little group of marooned veggies turned out to form the A-team for this lovely mid-winter soup, subtly sweet and fragrant — mashed to perfection by the newly acquired super duper presse-purée.

You will notice that I have flavored the soup with the Bed of Roses spice rub, brought to us by The Cape Herb and Spice Company, a South-African producer I’ve mentioned before. This fabulous spice mix was sent to me by Santa Claus in a bountiful package of foodie goodies. (Did you know that Santa Claus is actually a she and lives in NYC, that her name is Julie and that she reads C&Z? I didn’t know either.) It comes in a pretty tin, and is a mix of no less than “ginger, roasted garlic, sea salt, caraway seeds, sugar, roasted sesame seeds, cumin, paprika, cassia, chillies, coriander, blackpepper, turmeric, mint, nutmeg, grains of paradise, rose petals and saffron”! (Um, yeah, why don’t you try and recreate it at home?) Its aroma is very full-bodied and complex, and it went deliciously well in this soup. Thanks Julie!

Une Simple Soupe

– 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
– 1 black radish, peeled and cut in chunks
– 1 carrot, peeled and cut in chunks
– 3 zucchini, sliced
– 1 onion, peeled and chopped
– 3 garlic cloves, chopped
– olive oil
– salt, pepper, bed of roses spice rub

(Serves 4.)

Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan. When the oil is hot, add in the onion and garlic, and cook over medium heat until limp and translucent. Add in the other veggies, all except the zucchini. Season with salt, pepper and the spice rub. Pour in water (cold or room-temp is fine) to just cover the veggies.

Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, and simmer for fifteen minutes (start counting when the water boils). Add in the zucchini, and cook for another five to ten minutes. Test the tenderness of the vegetables with the tip of a knife, and keep simmering until they reach the desired consistency, whether you want them al dente or very tender.

Taste the soup (caution, it will be very hot — but you know that, right?) and adjust the seasoning. With a potato masher, a blender, a food processor, or at the very least a fork, mix the soup to your liking — chunky or smooth. Serve warm, with thick slices of toasted bread. Even better the next day.

  • swan

    my experience is that a teaspoon of honey brings the flavours out even better! Add to the soup before mashing.

  • If you make a lot of vegetable soups, there’s nothing like an immersion blender.

    Drop that little boat motor into the pot and within seconds you have a nicely blended soup. Mine is from Braun. I’ve had it for five years and it works wonderfully.

  • Alisa

    Ahh, another good chuckle :)
    Yum! I must discuss my spice needs with my santa(s) living in the U.S. Aside from the spice mix, I could whip up this soup right now – got the same stuff a chez moi. Fancy that.
    I made a mean pumpkin soup in a pumpkin, myself, this weekend.

  • Swan – It’s a good suggestion. I don’t usually add honey in that kind of soup, I find them pretty sweet as they are (from the sweet potatoes and the carrot) — but that’s just me!

    Barrett – Shhh! Not so loud! The potato masher might hear and feel very insecure!

    Alisa – The Cape Herb and Spice Company products can be found at the Grande Epicerie de Paris, too! They don’t have the whole range, and I’m not quite sure they have this rub, but the other stuff is worth checking out too!

  • I’ve bought those Cape Herb spices at Inno too. I like the cinnamon and sugar for my tartine in the morning.

  • fallenangel

    What a great idea ! i just wanted to cook a soup and post the recipe on my blog… but i had to prepare a pie with french cheese (munster), so it will be for the next time. But your soup seems delicious…

  • Ooooh, that sounds amazing, Clotilde. Must take advantage of visiting my parents right now (who have a real kitchen, as opposed to the hot plate I have in Paris) and whip up some soup!

  • swan

    Clotilde, I think you are right with the sweetness level of your ingredients. The honey works well with the single-kind-of-veggie-soup, like, uhm, perhaps…zucchini?!

  • this blog is the great discover of today, you are cool. Can i ask you in the future a topic or a post about rice i’m bored of soy sauce i need suggestions

  • Julie

    So glad you like Bed of Roses! It’s one of my faves…fabulous for roasting a chicken along with some lemon, olive oil, garlic and fresh cilantro. Your soup looks wonderful, and inspires me to think about trying some B of R in a soup as well…

  • naf

    The recipe looks delicious. (Anyway, I am a soup fans!!!)

    Even though I have a electric blender, which is handy for soup like this. There is the need to have a masher for potato, for making the best purée. I have heard from Robuchon that electric blade changes the taste of the smashed potato.

    That bowl you used is lovely, Clotilde. Where did you buy it?

  • swan

    update:Don’t oversmoothe this soup! I made it yesterday (had lots of fun looking for a black radish, which is not so common here, as well as sweet potatoes), but found the final result a bit too much like babyfood, I left too little chunks in there, and the taste of it, however nice and friendly, a little too bland (And I do have those spices!). Or, let me put it like this: it wasn’t better or more interesting than a zucchini or pumpkin soup, for me. But, lots of fun went into finally using the spices and shopping for the ingredients!

  • Ana

    Excellent soup Clotilde. I just made it and although I changed some of the ingredients it was still fantastic. I could not find black radish and so I used turnip (the vegetable dictionary said it was similar, although I believe the black radish might have a bit more punch!). Also I do not have the spice rub but checked the ingredients on the Cape Herb site and added quite a bit of grated fresh ginger.
    I have to thank you for the recipe. I am not a zucchini lover, but in this soup it goes well. I was looking for ways to eat this vegetable and this is a good one.

  • Hi,

    Are there any blogs dedicated to vegetarians?


  • Clotilde, You have a sweet tooth. Here is a TRULY simple (sugarless) vegetable soup:

    Peel four carrots, and two potatoes. Cut off the beard and dark green parts of one leek. Slice the leek most of the way up from the white end so the cross-section looks like an X. Rinse well under running water. This is because leeks may have some dirt trapped in the layers. Chop these into small pieces and put into a liter of boiling water. When the vegetables are soft, eat the soup. Variations: use a blending wand, food “processor”, manual food mill or “ricer”, upright blender, manual or electric egg-beater, etc, to render the soup anywhere from “chunky style” to purée. How many brain cells does this take? To jazz it up, stir in a raw egg while blending and return to the stove for a couple of minutes to cook it some more (but don”t boil it). Or start with two chicken (or seafood or beef) bouillon cubes in the water. Or thrown in some dark greens for the last few minutes of cooking, like parsley, watercress, kale or spinach. This is the soup my American grandmother made and my wife’s French grandmother made. — David

  • Kake69
  • Sounds delicious! I want to give this one a try once the weather cools down. :)

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.