French peasant soup
This hearty vegetable soup combines carrots, potatoes, onions or leeks, and bacon for a stick-to-your-ribs cool weather meal. You may include other veggies according to what’s in season, and top the soup with grated cheese, crème fraîche, or both. In the recipe below, I have included zucchini, which is still prevalent in the markets of France.
2 medium carrots
2 medium onions or 1 leek
2 medium potatoes
1 large zucchini (courgette)
1/4 pound (100 g.) thick-cut bacon or pre-cut lardons
1 tsp. olive oil
6 cups (1.5 liter) water
1 sprig fresh dill
1/2 cup (50 g.) grated comté, gruyère, or a similar cheese (optional)
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream (optional)
Peel the carrots, slice in half lengthwise and cut into half-rounds. Peel and chop the onions or leek. Peel the potatoes, cut in quarters lengthwise and slice into manageable pieces. Wash the zucchini, quarter lengthwise and slice into quarter-rounds.
Remove the rind from the bacon if necessary and slice crosswise into small strips (lardons).
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil to sizzling. Add the bacon and onions or leeks. Sauté, stirring, for about 2 minutes.
Add the water, bring to a boil and add the chopped veggies. Turn down the heat and let the soup simmer until the vegetables are tender, about half an hour.
You may stop at this point and reheat the soup later, or serve right away.
Just before serving, snip the dill into the soup. Ladle into shallow soup plates or bowls and top with the grated cheese, the cream, or both, accompanied by crusty bread and a hearty red wine. Serves 2-3.