Archive for the ‘vegetables’ Category

Giselle’s Potage

It’s kind of a “garbage” soup, meaning you can put pretty much any vegetable you like in it. The base is potato, onion, and water. Julia Child’s version uses four parts potato to three parts onion, but Mom never used that much onion. I normally use around six big potatoes and one large onion. Mom’s secret, which I always follow, is to also use one small- to medium-sized white turnip. It adds a little sweetness. Don’t use yellow turnips; they’ll turn it treacly. I add a carrot or two for color. But if you want only white soup, you can skip it. If you use any other vegetables, use them in very limited quantity, to keep the basic character of the potage. And don’t use parsnip: I tried once, and it makes it gummy.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 60-75 minutes
  • Servings: 8


6 large potatoes
1 large onion
1 small white turnip
3-6 tbsp heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste



  1. Peel and chop everything into roughly equal sizes, put it in a soup pot and add water to cover.
  2. Heat to a boil, skim any fuzz off the top, then lower to a simmer and add salt and lots of pepper. Let it cook for an hour or so, or until you can easily mash the hardest vegetable (usually the carrots) against the side of the pot with the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. If it looks too watery, pour the extra water out and keep it aside. You can always add it back in if you miscalculated.
  4. Then you want to refine it a little. Mom liked it very smooth and used to run it through a blender. I prefer putting it through a food mill, twice. I remember Karen once mashing it into small bits, and that was good too.
  5. Finally, you need to bind it. I like heavy cream because the taste is lovely. Three tablespoons works for me, but Julia Child recommends four to six. If you don’t have that, Mom would add butter or even olive oil.

Serving Notes

Serve it with bread and salad, and you have a dinner. Some vegetables (like cauliflower) invite cheese. It keeps fine for a few days.

Giselle’s Soupe a L’oignon

It’s really all very simple. So go to it and Bonne Chance. Love, giselle.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 20 minutes
  • Servings: 4


4 onions
2 or 3 tbsp butter (see what’s needed so the onions will not burn yet not be butter saturated either, you can always add some, easier than to take out — in French it says 40 gr)
1 liter water (a little more than a quart)
4 oz (or a bit more) grated gruyere cheese
slices dry or toasted bread


  1. Slice the onions in thin slices.
  2. Saute (until golden) in butter. When they have une jolie coleur (nice color) (depends what you call “une jolie coleur” of course, but they mean nice and golden, not brown) add the water and a little salt.
  3. Let the melange boil for a few minutes.
  4. Pour into a “soupiere” or something oven proof. Place the thin slices of dry or toasted bread covered with grated cheese on top of the soup.
  5. Put in hot oven until cheese is melted and gratine (golden) — usually a few minutes.

Alternate Method

You may find this way a little easier than the other way. You can make the soup ahead of time as well as the croutons and just heat the soup and pour over the croutons when you are about to eat. Make sure it’s nice and hot.

  1. Start out same as above but when onions are golden, stir in a tbsp of flour that you let become golden brown (it means over slow fire).
  2. Add 1/2 ltr milk and 1/2 ltr water.
  3. Stir well, let boil a few minutes (4 or 5) and pour on fried croutons (you can buy croutons [plain not with garlic or other stuff] and fry them in butter in advance).

Simple Potato and Cheese Lunch or Dinner

Raclette-PotatoThis isn’t a recipe but rather a meal idea. Switzerland, where I live, has a fairly restrained indigenous cuisine. The dish most outsiders know is fondue. There is also something called raclette, which involves melting a special kind of cheese and eating that with boiled potatoes and pickled vegetables.

Raclette is actually delicious. But it requires an apparatus to melt and scrape the cheese. That means somebody is stuck doing the melting, and everybody else is sort of waiting. It’s hard to tuck in and eat.

There’s a variation on the theme where you just boil a lot of potatoes (in their jackets), keep them warm in a cloth-lined basket, then set out some cheeses, maybe one pickle or salad-type dish, and a plate of flavorful grapes. You can dress the meal up with wine or dress it down with cider. The simplicity is part of the charm. It’s terrific for entertaining because the food doesn’t get in the way of conversation. You can assemble it in a hurry, and scale it up easily. And there’s hardly anything to clean up.

The potatoes should be medium-sized. I like raclette potatoes (apparently also called nicola potatoes), which have yellow flesh and a lovely taste. The hard part is picking the cheeses. You want a mix that is interesting. At one such meal we were served Brie de Meaux, Tendre Bûche Chavroux (goat cheese), Cambozola (a German cheese with a little bit of blue cheese mixed in), and one or two local Swiss hard cheeses. A few weeks ago, people we were visiting brought out a small round wooden box containing an orange-crusted cheese that was so creamy you had to scoop it out with a spoon. It’s called Vacherin Mont d’Or, and it was sublime. I don’t know if you can get it in the States.

Sauteed Green Beans

green beans14There are very few things in this world that don’t taste good sauteed in butter and garlic. Here is a very simply recipe for green greens that is delicious, easy to make, and tastes nearly as good the second and third day as it is the first.


  • 1 lb green beans
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp butter


  1. Prepare green beans by removing tips. Peel and mince the garlic cloves.
  2. In a saucepan or pot, add about 1-2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer. Add the green beans and cover the pot.
  3. Steam the beans until al dente, approximately 10 minutes. Test often by biting a bean. You want them soft enough to eat yet still retaining a bit of crunch. At any point while cooking if the water gets too low toss in another cup.
  4. When the beans are ready, remove from heat and drain in colander. Allow them to rest long enough so that their skins dry (this will allow them to bind with the butter/garlic).
  5. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until it begins to sizzle lightly. Add garlic and sautee for about a minute, taking care not to burn the butter.
  6. Lower the heat and add the green beans. Toss thoroughly to coat them with butter. Cook over low heat, tossing occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until sufficiently hot.


If desired, in place of butter you can use 1 tbsp of olive oil. Olive oil is lass flavorful than butter but is more forgiving when it comes to burning.

Serving Notes

  • These work quite well as leftovers. Just microwave.
  • If you’re a vegetarian (or even if you’re not) try these over a bed of rice or mashed potatoes for a fast and very satisfying meal.