Crème aux herbes potagères

garden-greens-soup2

Soup of mixed garden greens

This elegant soup is an ecologist’s dream, as it incorporates greens from the garden that most often end up in the bin. It was invented by the Paris chef Rodolphe Paquin, who uses a mixture of carrot fronds, radish leaves, watercress and/or sorrel and fresh tarragon — whatever he has on hand. Whipped cream is swirled in at the end.

If you don’t have a garden or access to a farmers’ market, some of these greens may be difficult to obtain. Substitute baby spinach for the watercress if necessary, and use your imagination for the other greens. Possibilities include baby chard, baby beet greens, curly endive etc. Bottom line: Do not omit the tarragon. It’s essential.

You can make the soup richer by increasing the amount of cream. The quantity in the recipe below — a lighter version — may be doubled for an ultra creamy taste.

3 cups homemade chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 cup coarsely chopped carrot fronds, loosely packed
1 cup coarsely chopped radish leaves, loosely packed

1 cup coarsely chopped watercress or sorrel, loosely packed
5-8 stems fresh tarragon
1 small potato
1/2 cup (120 ml) chilled whipping cream (or more)
salt to taste

Begin by making the broth — this may be done a day ahead of time. The recipes on this site for chicken broth and vegetable broth will yield more than 3 cups. Set aside the extra for another use. Please note: Do not use a bouillon cube, as this would distort the flavor.

Select a bowl for whipping the cream and set it in the fridge to chill while you are proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

Rinse all the greens. Remove the tarragon leaves from their stems and set aside. Chop the remaining fronds and leaves and pack them into a measuring cup, fitting in as much in as you can without tamping them down. You will need 3 cups in total — vary the mixture as you like. Reserve a few watercress leaves for decoration.

Peel the potato and chop into small dice.

Bring the broth to a simmer. Add the chopped greens, the tarragon leaves and the diced potato. Cook until the potato is tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat. Blitz very thoroughly with a blender. The soup will now be a rather unattractive dark green, but the cream will take care of that.

Just before serving, gently reheat the soup. Whip the cream in the chilled bowl until firm. Swirl into the soup with a wire whisk. Taste and add salt if necessary (there is already salt in the broth, so you may not need more).

For an elegant presentation, serve the soup in small glasses, decorating each serving with a watercress leaf. The soup will serve 6-8 as a palate teaser, or 3-4 as a first course.


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