Several years ago, as an exchange student I discovered soups of all sorts. In the US, I ate my childhood quota of Cambell's chicken noodle and cream of tomato, but the closest my family got to soup was chili con carne. We never even had stew.
My host mom served soup everyday at the start the evening meal and although she was not a good cook in general (dinner often arrived charred) she could make soup, or rather potage quite well. The French have many classifications* for what we americans call 'soup' including soupe, potage, consomm, velout, crme,
A potage is a blended soup without milk or cream (adding milk or cream will most likely make it a veloutcrme). Potages are an elegant soup (although I always think of porridge when I see it written!) that are excellent starts for a meal, but usually too light to be considered a meal themselves. To turn it into a light meal have with half a sandwich, a salad, a quesadilla /grilled cheese or treat it as a starter for a small dish of pasta. I've been enjoying this soup with a quesadilla and another vegetable for lunch this week.
This marriage came together from my csa box. I have too many parsnips, I suspect I will be having many
parsnips potages in the weeks to come (I really need to expand my parsnip preparations ... any favorites?). The basic potage recipe can be applied to any two seasonal vegetables and works well with winter greens and vegetables.
swiss chard and parsnip potage
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch swiss chard (I used rainbow), cleaned and chopped
3 parsnips, well scrubbed and sliced
broth/water, to cover
sea salt + pepper, to taste
1. In large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and cook onion until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add garlic, chard, parsnip and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes.
2. Cover the vegetables with broth and/or hot water, bring to a simmer. Cover. Cook for 25 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through.
3. Use your immersion blender to whiz the soup to a smooth, velvet consistency. If you don't have a hand blender (I'm sad for you), use a food processor, blender, food mill, or potato masher and blend the soup as smoothly as you can. Add more water/broth if potage is too thick.
* the most complete online resource I found, not conclusive: French Soups