(The) Fall (of Man) French Vegetable Soup

Looks innocent enough, but you’ll fall right in.

I made this dish for my staunchly religious carnivore dad while visiting him last week, and (to use a direct quote) he “never thought vegan food could taste this good.” It was high praise indeed, seeing as my diet has, at times, seemed as iniquitous to him as my post-churchgoing lifestyle.

Thick with butternut squash, kale, leeks, and white beans, this is a quintessentially “fall” soup, made irresistibly seductive by the bewitching base of a French pinçage, also known as a mirepoix combination (onion, carrots, and celery in a roughly 2:1:1 ratio) sauteed with a little tomato paste (and in this case, garlic). The herbs may add a touch of je ne sais quoi to the mélange, but pinçage is the sneaky angel of darkness that can tempt true beef-lievers away from the straight and narrow. One taste and you may know the flavor of good and evil… and it’s nothing like a sacred cow.

You’ll need a grand marmite (big pot) as this serves 6-8, but it also freezes well.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (more to taste)
  • 2 small leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced in 1/4″ rounds, separated and soaked in a bowl to remove sand
  • About 1 lb butternut squash (2-3 cups), chopped in 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground sage
  • Small bunch green kale, spines removed, chopped bite size
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large soup pot over medium-low heat, saute the onion in the olive oil (with a tablespoon or two of water to keep it wet) until translucent, then add the carrots and celery and continue to cook until the vegetables are soft and reduced but not browned. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two, then add the tomato paste and continue to stir and caramelize the mixture down – it may be somewhat hard to tell with the veggies, but the paste will turn from a deep red to an orangey rust color. Voilà le pinçage!

Now stir in the leeks and the sea salt (and a tablespoon of water to moisten everything if needed). Cover the pot on low/simmer to let the leeks steam cook soft – this is a good time to finish chopping up the squash and kale. Pour in the vegetable broth and the tomatoes, stir in the squash and the herbs, and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat and let the brew simmer 15 minutes or until the squash is fork-tender. Stir in the kale to wilt it, and season with more salt and ground pepper to taste.

I was veg-extreme this time around and served it with a salad to absolutely no complaints, but a rustic bread is always a good pairing. Fig leaves are optional, of course, but feel free to slurp this up without shame.

Ooh la la.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. mirandagualtieri says:

    Looks SO YUMMY!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Madame le P. says:

    Wish you were here so I could make it for you, ma cherie!

    Like

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