Saturday, October 11, 2014

Potage Cultivateur (or Farmer's Soup)

Blogger's Note: I was going to feature this post last weekend but it was Oktoberfest weekend and I did not feel right posting a French dish on a German food weekend. It gave me more time to write this, after I enjoyed the spaetzle and sweinebraten.

Fall is here and here in Northern California, it is slowly becoming soup weather.

I found this recipe in my backlog as I was looking for one of my muffin recipes. I thought this was a great candidate for my hubby to cook. His criteria: no more than 10 ingredients, simple instructions. I can't blame him; cooking during the week can be tricky. This was actually had 11 ingredients, but I think "salt and pepper" in one line threw him off.

That's why Michael Symon's 5 in 5 book is perfect for us. #unsolicitedplug

According to Wikipedia, "Potage (from Old French pottage or potted dish) is a category of thick soups, stews, or porridges, in some of which meat and vegetables are boiled together with water until they form into a thick mush."

Potage has its origins in the medieval cuisine of Northern France and increased in popularity from High Middle Ages onward. A course in a medieval feast often began with one or two potages, which would be followed by roasted meats.

Anyway, this recipe appealed to me because it was simple and involved economical ingredients. I believe the most expensive ingredient was the bacon. The most challenging part of this was prep (and explaining to my husband what a Haricot Vert is and what are acceptable substitutes).

I was intrigued so I volunteered to make it. I not Maddify this recipe too much. I was not too familiar with this recipe, so I wanted to try it as is. The only change that I made was added one more strip of bacon. It seemed appropriate.

Here's the slightly modified recipe. Bon Appetit!

Farmer's Soup (Potage Cultivateur)
From Pascal Rigo, "La Boulange: Cafe Cooking at Home"
As published in The Contra Costa County Times

  • 2 leeks, rinsed
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 waxy potatoes, such as red or Yukon Gold, diced
  • 1 turnip, diced 
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 3/4 cup haricot verts (if you can't find haricot verts, just use green beans)
  • 1/4 head of Savoy cabbage (I actually messed up and bought Napa cabbage, I think it worked out)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 slices of bacon (yes, I added an extra one - Pascal Rigo used only 3)
  • Salt and pepper to taste 


  1. Trim the leek ends and halve the leeks lengthwise. Thinly alive the white and green parts discard the rest.
  2. Peel and dice the carrots, potatoes, and turnip. (I try to get it the same size so it cooks evenly)
  3. Chop the celery.
  4. Cut the haricot verts into 1/2 inch lengths.
  5. Core cabbage and cut the leaves into thin shreds.
  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add bacon; cook until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add leeks and stir to coat with bacon fat.
  4. Add carrots, potatoes, turnip, and celery to the pot. Add salt and pepper (I added about a pinch of salt and pepper because the bacon has enough salt).
  5. Add enough water to cover. Cook for about 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add cabbage to the pot. Add more water to cover the cabbage; bring to a boil.
  7. Cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.
  8. Simmer gently for 1 hour or until vegetables are tender.
  9. Add haricot verts; cook 5 minutes or until tender.


Potage Cultivateur with Pork chops
I really enjoy this recipe and we will make it part of our winter rotation. It's very hearty and filling. The bacon added a beautiful smokiness to the soup and for me was completely unexpected. It was a good balance. I got to remember that when I am experimenting....uh, creating recipes. It may be already at the border and using 5 slices may be too much.

Since I made it for dinner, I thought serving it with pork chop and rustic bread (with butter) would be appropriate. I even used Herbes de Provance on my pork chops. Perfect match... Even though this was probably the first evening when I used almost a stick of butter when cooking.

Warning... Prep can take a while. My knife skills are not that great, and it did take me a while to chop all of the veggies. Fortunately, chopping veggies can be my R&R time. I call it my meditation or chill time.

Anyways, now I am intrigued by Potage and looking up different varieties of it. I think this fall maybe full of experiments with French soups.

... and Sweinebraten.

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