A twist on a classic French soup. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Continuing a series of soup posts as the weather cools (here in the Northeast at least), I’m offering this rich vegetable garbure. Garbure hails from my favorite food region, Gascony, in the southwestern corner of France. (I wrote about it here for Conde Nast Traveler.) It would traditionally include some kind of confited meat and cabbage. This version, which I included in Ruhlman’s Twenty, gets its depth of flavor from bacon rind, but you could substitute several slices of rind-on bacon, diced, or omit the bacon completely for a vegetarian soup. But pig skin, connective tissue, is loaded with a protein called collagen, which breaks down into gelatin to give the soup great body. If you can’t find slab bacon with a rind to remove yourself, order it from your butcher or meat department. Or, better yet, cure your own!

My cooking tools boss, Mac Dalton, asked me to include a special offer on our soup and serving spoon set, something like 40% off, I believe, and good for the rest of this month. I honestly do love the offset-ness of these spoons because they rest on the edge of a bowl rather than slide into the soup.

Importantly, this soup requires no stock. I’ve built the stock into the recipe itself. As with my French Onion Soup, I prefer the clean, pure flavors that come from using only water.

Winter Vegetable Garbure

  • 2 leeks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, cut into medium dice
  • 2 to 4 shallots, sliced
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 piece bacon rind large enough to cover the bottom of the pan (about 8 inches/20 centimeters across)
  • 8 cups/2 liters water
  • 4 celery stalks; 2 whole, 2 cut into bite sized pieces
  • 4 carrots; 2 whole, 2 peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste/puree
  • 2 potatoes (about 1 pound/455 grams), peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound/455 grams white cabbage, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional but advised)
  • About 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine or sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely sliced fresh chives
  1. Cut the root ends from each leek and trim the ragged ends of the leaves. Halve the leeks lengthwise and wash thoroughly under cold water, checking for dirt between the layers of leaves. Cut the leeks off where the pale green turns to dark green. Cut the white and pale green parts crosswise into 1/2-inch/12-millimeter slices. Tie the green leaves together with butcher’s twine.
  2. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sliced leeks, onion, shallots, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. As the vegetables cook, season them with a couple of three-finger pinches of salt (1 teaspoon). Reduce the heat to low or medium-low, lay the bacon rind over the vegetables, and continue to cook for an hour (they should be very soft but still pale in color, not browned). Lift the bacon rind about midway through and stir the vegetables.
  3. Add the water and bound leek tops, whole celery ribs, whole carrots, bay leaves, and tomato paste/puree. Raise the heat to high and bring to a gentle simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook for an hour.
  4. Remove the leek tops, celery, carrots, and bay leaves from the pot and discard. Remove the bacon rind (it can be scraped of excess fat and reserved, then cut into strips and fried as cracklings). Taste the broth and season with salt as needed. Add the potatoes, raise the heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cayenne. Add the cut celery, cut carrots, and cabbage, return the soup to a simmer, and cook until the vegetables are cooked through, about 10 minutes longer. Season with the fish sauce (if using) and the vinegar. Stir the soup, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Serve garnished with the chives.

Serves 6



If you liked this post on Winter Vegetable Garbure, check out these other posts:


© 2015 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2015 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


13 Wonderful responses to “Winter Vegetable Garbure”

  • Allen

    My new favorite source of collagen is trotters, AKA – pigs feet. Ferguson Henderson has a great recipe for trotter gear in his Nose To Tail book.

    • Victoria

      I agree; pigs feet add a lot to many dishes. It’s good to keep one in the freezer. Same with chicken feet for chicken stock.

  • Victoria

    This sounds delicious, and now that the weather is cold I’ve started making soup regularly. I will try this soon. I wonder how Food Lab’s umami bomb would work in place of the fish sauce and tomato paste.

  • Bill Spencer

    Made this soup tonight for tomorrow. Went together quite nicely. Thank you for the excellent recipe. Had to try the cracklings. What a mess, but OMG, how good! Had to throw out my tank top. Will have to wait until sun break to see what kind of burns I have on the rest of my body (just kidding). The soup stock has such “umami”! Will share a photo of the prep on your Facebook page. You continue to be a great inspiration. Thank you!

  • John C. Lowe

    Michael, I can’t wait to try this one! Another great soup flavoring is ham hocks! I use them in my Minestrone.

  • terri

    Sounds delicious–everything is better with bacon in it!

    What, no rant about the recent announcement by the WHO that bacon and processed meats are now considered to cause cancer? I was looking forward to it 🙂

  • Ruhlman Reader

    To LA Phares:
    Fellow gluten free person as well. Every fish sauce I’ve ever used is gluten free so I think you should be fine. If your fish sauce has gluten in it, I would just look for a different brand. Currently I have Tiparos and it’s really good. Put it in my Mac and cheese every time, thanks to Michael! First time posting. Love the blog.

  • Plaze

    About same recipe of vegetable soup as around. But we are more meat lovers and we usually add some beef in to soup. Saying hello from Czech Republic.

  • Ning Wei Wang

    My name is Ning Wei Wang, an international student from China. My grandfather was a famous cook in Beijing Restaruant. I love the vegetable soup! It is amazing!!! I enjoy cooking different kinds of vegetable together.I enjoy reading your food blog. I love food writing!!! I love chinese food!!! I love writing!!! This is my food blog: http://www.ningweiwangfood.simplesite.com
    Can you add it in your links? I want to let more people read my articles. Please! please! please!

  • Ning Wei Wang

    I am Ning Wei Wang, an international student from China. My grandfather was a famous cook in the Beijing Restaruant. I love the vegetable soup. It is amazing!!! I enjoy cooking different kinds of vegetable together. I love your food blog. I love food writing,too. This is my food blog:www.ningweiwangfood.simplesite.com
    Can you add it in your links? I want to let more people read my articles. Please! please!please! I love chinese food! I love food writing!

  • Harry

    I’m looking forward to trying this but – inevitably – will be making some changes so as to use what I already have.

    – Uncured pig skin, because I forgot to smoke it last time I made bacon.
    – Bacon grease instead of butter, because the pig skin isn’t smoked.
    – Add some beans (from Rancho Gordo!) because I like a full meal soup in the winter.
    – Since the first steps yield a veggie stock, I may – or may not – use a veggie stock I already have. OTOH that would mean that I’m not making stock under a piece of pigskin, and who could resist that option?


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