Recipes are a guideline, not something written in stone. That’s the secret of this recipe from “La Cuisine: Everyday French Home Cooking: 1,000 Simple Recipes” (Rizzoli, $45) by Françoise Bernard, who writes, “Use whatever you have growing in the garden or any leftover herbs and leafy greens in the refrigerator. With a handful of this and a bit of that, you have a very good soup.”
I had the sorrel and parsley in the garden, the spinach and lettuce in the fridge, but no watercress. No watercress at the grocery, and no arugula, either. So, I grabbed some kale and tossed that into the mix, and it worked well. I found that a little extra lemon juice added great flavor, too. (The recipe recommends saving some of the watercress for a side salad; when you take a look at your mix of greens before cooking them, you may just want to remove some of that.)
French Leafy Greens Soup (Velouté aux herbes du jardin)
2 tablespoons butter
1 small head Boston lettuce, chopped
2 small bunches of sorrel, large stems removed, chopped
2 small bunches of spinach, large stems removed, chopped
1 small bunch of chervil or parsley, stems removed, chopped
1 small bunch of watercress, chopped with stems, the nicer half of the leaves reserved
1 celery rib, chopped
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
2 cups milk
1/4 cup rice
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon crème fraîche or sour cream with lemon juice mix in
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the lettuce, sorrel, spinach, chervil or parsley, watercress and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the celery is soft, about 10 minutes. Add 4 cups of water and season with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
Purée the soup using a food mill or blender. return the soup to the pan and add the milk. Bring to a boil, add the rice and cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a soup tureen, whisk the egg yolk with the crème fraîche. Gradually blend in the soup and serve immediately.
Use the remaining watercress to make a side salad.
Makes 4-6 servings.
From “La Cuisine: Everyday French Home Cooking” by Françoise Bernard