La Purée (Vegetable Soup)

Soup is a very common meal in France.

It can be served as an appetizer, but given that the French eat sparing dinners, it’s more likely to be the main course. The most common is a vegetable soup, called “purée.”

You take some large leeks.

Chop them into rounds and rinse them well to remove the sand. Of course you can use onions instead, but leeks are known to remove cellulite.  And the French know what they’re doing when it comes to cellulite.

Peel and chop four large fresh carrots. Or use a bunch of runts left over in the refrigerator like these.

Wash and cut 2-3 zucchinis, but leave the skin on. Growing up I studiously avoided zucchini any moment that we were not actually forced to consume it, but now … now there must be a sachet of zucchini in my house at all times.  I would never have believed you had you told me it would become indispensable (or that I would voluntarily grow it).

Add a couple of turnips (although these might actually be rutabagas(?). I know, right? Who has ever actually cooked a rutabaga before? Or a turnip for that matter? And now you know what to do with them.

Actually this one is big enough so I’ll save the other one for a beef stew.

Other people add potatoes or tomatoes to this basic recipe, but I don’t. My little touche finale is red peppers. I think it makes it taste sweet.

And that’s it. You don’t need oil or spices. Just add a handful of large sea salt (about a tablespoon, although I ended up adding another tablespoon when it was cooked because I found it was needed).

Just cover it with water and bring it to a boil. Then lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer it for 45 minutes.

(Here is where my pictures start to get muted because I finished preparing the soup in the evening and we haven’t yet bought photoshop to boost the images).

Before you purée it, remove the excess water so it’s not too runny. It looks like this.

(You can save this water for vegetable stock if you’re less lazy than I.)

This thing is handy and every French kitchen has one. No more pouring hot soup into a blender, spilling half the contents down the side and on to the floor.

Do ignore the hack job at the back of Young Knight’s hair.  Did you guess the Trim was more of a photo op?  Although sometimes I get lucky.  Otherwise it’s off to Franck Provost.

The French will eat it plain or put a dollop of sour cream in it (crème fraiche). Or why not try a square of cream cheese?

That way it’s creamy and there are little lumps of cheese – hidden treasures. My kids LOVE this soup as long as there are no vegetable lumps, only cheesey ones.

Seriously!  This is what they look like after they’ve eaten soup for dinner.

And that’s it baby. That’s all you get for dinner.  (I’m not talking about Petit Prince, I’m talking about you, dear Reader, who aspire to eat like a french person)!

Oh, except for maybe a tiny wedge of this.

And maybe a fruit or a yoghurt.

No wonder they’re all so skinny.


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I am the daughter of a symphony musician who was raised in upstate New York, and I simply breathe all things classical, be it music or 19th century literature (English and Russian). I married Sir Renaissance in New York City, and before I knew it, he had swept me up and brought me back home to his own country. So here we are. Three children, a rather ordinary life in a rather exceptional place. I am now ‘A Lady in France.’

Posted in Food, La Cuisine (The Kitchen), Soups, Sides & Salads, Tout le Reste (Everything else) Tagged with: , ,
17 comments on “La Purée (Vegetable Soup)
  1. Mrs.Mayhem says:

    I love vegetable soups and make them all the time… though, being American, mine tend to have pasta, spices, and lots of grated cheese. I love the idea of pureeing the veggies. I will absolutely try this, even though I have never cooked either a rutabaga or a turnip.

  2. I loved this, I could have read you on this subject for hours. Your photos are beautiful, too. I’m sensing more contentment since you moved to your new blog address – is that just my imagination? I don’t know, something seems to be shifting in you. Either way, this was gorgeous from beginning to end.

    I have severe cheese envy, too.

    • ladyjennie says:

      Oh MLS – I am so encouraged by your comment.

      Yes, I am more content. Well for one thing, the construction is done on our house so I feel like I have a place to spread my wings.

      But you’re right about being more content in my new blog. I think I needed to be able to show us, our lives, the children (even though it’s not a motherhood blog), the recipes (even though it’s not a cooking blog), the places (even though it’s not a french blog). When I was keeping it so anonymous, I felt stilted.

      But with all the pictures and the freedom I have with that, there’s no end to my ideas for different posts. So that makes me really happy, like I could do this forever and not get tired of it.

  3. Ms. Pearl says:

    I’m loving the new blog too. The soup looks fantastic and so simple to make! I need more recipes like that.

    You can do all kinds of things to your photos with Photoscape, a free editing software program. Just go to and hit download. People like Gimp too, but I’ve never tried it.

  4. Kate says:

    I need one of those magical immersion blenders. And less for dinner.

  5. The only – well, one of the only – things I’ve learned over writing for the past year and a half is this: don’t worry about what kind of blog you have. You don’t have to have a photo blog, a food blog, a writing blog, a mommy blog, a craft blog. You just have to have your blog, and if you do you’ll be surprised how often you can take people with you when you write something that isn’t your usual sort of post.

    • ladyjennie says:


      It’s also a very good thing for me to have no idea who (how many) read my blog. That way it’s just about the content. (Although I may gush a bit when one of my favorite bloggers leaves a comment) :-)

  6. Oh yum and if I could get my kids to eat it, I would jump up and down with joy!!

  7. joann mannix says:

    I love leeks and I had no idea about the cellulite. I am stocking up from this moment on!

    The soup looks beautiful.

    And when visiting your fair adopted country, I was pleasantly surprised to experience the importance of cheese in the dinner meal. When they bring that platter out with all the fabulous cheeses on it after the main course. Oh, how I wish we had such a tradition!

    Some day I will tell you my French tales. We have had ourselves quite the adventures on your side of the ocean.

  8. Carolyne says:

    HOW do leeks remove cellulite???? I have to know the answer to this!
    And that’s it? no bread to dip in the soup? noooooooo

  9. mep says:

    Immersion blender has been on my “need this/want this” list for a while now. I hope Santa gets that message.
    How much cheese can one eat in polite company because as much as I love soup, I’m a hungry girl!

  10. Thanks for posting this recipe. I just bought an immersion blender and made the soup. Delicious with red peppers!

I'm Jennie. Welcome to A Lady in France! I write books, and also this blog on faith, French culture and recipes ... ( To continue reading, please click here. )

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