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Potage aux Legumes is the classic French vegetable soup with a cozy, rustic vibe. So easy, so warming, so good. Vegetarian with vegan option.

potage aux legumes (rustic French vegetable soup) in a bowl with a glass of wine and a small spoon
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Why we love this recipe

On our first trip to Paris as a family, things didn’t exactly go as planned. But boy, we ate some good soup. This potage aux legumes recipe reminds me of a great meal we had in the middle of a chilly, frazzled day.

Back home, it’s an:

  • Unassuming
  • Fuss-free
  • Perfectly seasoned
  • Coarsely pureed vegetable soup
  • That you’ll want to make again and again
  • Vegetarian and gluten-free, with an easy vegan option

I first published this recipe here way back in 2011. I’ve since updated the post for clarity, but the recipe remains the same. To read the travel essay originally published with this recipe, click here.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make French vegetable soup. It’s not much!

ingredients in bowls
  • You can use either gold-fleshed (e.g. Yukon Gold) or starchy (e.g. russet or Idaho) potatoes, whichever you have on hand.
  • Tend to use good old yellow onion, but if you have leeks or shallots, they’ll contribute even more dimension to the soup’s flavor
  • If you’re using vegetable broth, be sure to pick a good one. My favorite by far is this one, since it has a similar flavor profile to chicken broth and works very well in soup. If you’re not concerned about making the soup vegetarian, use a good chicken broth. Homemade stock is always a great option, too.
  • Use fresh thyme if you have it since the stems really help flavor the broth, but if not, you can substitute dried
  • A big splash of heavy cream enriches and rounds out the flavors of the soup. For a vegan version, substitute a good extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Not pictured: I like to stir in a couple of tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice at the end to heighten all the flavors.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a cozy pot of potage aux legumes. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Peel and dice all the vegetables about the same size. The smaller you chop, the more quickly the soup will cook. Add them to a large pot.
  2. Stir in the broth, salt and pepper, nutmeg, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender.
  3. Pass the soup through a food mill or puree with an immersion or regular blender. I like the coarseness of a food mill for this soup, but it’s great either way.
  4. Stir in the cream (or olive oil) and reheat. Squeeze in the lemon juice and serve!

Expert tips and FAQs

You can easily make this soup vegan by fortifying it with extra-virgin olive oil instead of cream. 

Can I add or substitute…

Probably! This is a very flexible recipe that adapts well to your dietary preferences and the contents of your fridge. As long as you keep the ratios about the same, things should turn out well.

Some easy substitutions: Swap in a different broth or stock, change up the alliums (think leeks, shallots, or a different onion variety), use herbes de Provence instead of thyme, try cashew cream instead of the cream or olive oil — but really the sky’s the limit.

Some easy additions: Turnip, parsnip, celery root, Jerusalem artichoke, or sweet potato (sub in for up to half of the potato); a pound of celery (just go ahead and add it); 8 cloves garlic; 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper for a background note of gentle heat — and so many more.

Got any variations on the method?

Mmmhmm. I like the extreme simplicity of throwing everything into the pot and cranking up the heat. But to develop the flavors more, you can start by heating two tablespoons of butter or olive oil and sautéing the onion and carrot until lightly browned. Then add the rest of the ingredients (minus the cream and lemon juice) and proceed as directed, scraping up any browned bits. Alternatively, you can roast the potatoes, carrots, and onions at 400°F until tender and lightly caramelized before adding them to the pot.

Can I make potage aux legumes in advance? What about leftovers?

Yes! As with many soups, the flavors only improve over time. This recipe makes a nice big batch that keeps well in an airtight container (or right in the pot) in the fridge for a week — so make it anytime. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

More cozy vegetarian & vegan soup recipes

potage aux legumes (rustic French vegetable soup) in a bowl with a glass of wine and a small spoon

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Potage aux Legumes (Rustic French Vegetable Soup) 780 | Umami Girl
4.60 from 25 votes

Potage aux Legumes (Rustic French Vegetable Soup)

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
This simple soup is far greater than the sum of its parts. It makes a nice big batch that keeps well for a week in the fridge and, like the rest of us, even improves with a night’s rest.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6
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Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds (908 grams) potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound (454 grams) yellow onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound (454 grams) carrots, peeled and diced
  • 8 cups 1(900 ml) good lower-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream OR 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

Instructions 

  • To a heavy 5-quart pot, add the potatoes, onions, carrots, broth, salt, pepper, nutmeg, thyme, and bay leaves.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Cover and reduce heat to maintain a brisk simmer.
  • Simmer, stirring occasionally, until all vegetables are very tender, about an hour depending on size.
  • Remove thyme stems and bay leaves.
  • Pass soup through a food mill with a medium disc attached. Almost all of the solids should go through. (Or use a stick blender or regular blender for a less rustic texture.) 
  • Stir in cream or olive oil.
  • Return to pot and reheat.
  • Stir in lemon juice and serve. 

Notes

  1. You can use either gold-fleshed (e.g. Yukon Gold) or starchy (e.g. russet or Idaho) potatoes, whichever you have on hand.
  2. If you're using vegetable broth, be sure to pick a good one. My favorite by far is this one, since it has a similar flavor profile to chicken broth and works very well in soup. If you're not concerned about making the soup vegetarian, use a good chicken broth. Homemade stock is always a great option, too.
  3. This is a very flexible recipe that adapts well to your dietary preferences and the contents of your fridge. As long as you keep the ratios about the same, things should turn out well.
  4. Some easy substitutions: Swap in a different broth or stock, change up the alliums (think leeks, shallots, or a different onion variety), use herbes de Provence instead of thyme, try cashew cream instead of the cream or olive oil — but really the sky's the limit.
  5. Some easy additions: Turnip, parsnip, celery root, Jerusalem artichoke, or sweet potato (sub in for up to half of the potato); a pound of celery (just go ahead and add it); 8 cloves garlic; ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper for a background note of gentle heat — and so many more.
  6. I like the extreme simplicity of throwing everything into the pot and cranking up the heat. But to develop the flavors more, you can start by heating two tablespoons of butter or olive oil and sautéing the onion and carrot until lightly browned. Then add the rest of the ingredients (minus the cream and lemon juice) and proceed as directed, scraping up any browned bits. Alternatively, you can roast the potatoes, carrots, and onions at 400°F until tender and lightly caramelized before adding them to the pot.
  7. As with many soups, the flavors only improve over time. This recipe makes a nice big batch that keeps well in an airtight container (or right in the pot) in the fridge for a week — so make it anytime. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Nutrition

Calories: 350kcal, Carbohydrates: 48.7g, Protein: 5.4g, Fat: 15.8g, Fiber: 8.4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Soups
Cuisine: French
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.60 from 25 votes (25 ratings without comment)

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6 Comments

  1. I make this often to eat for lunches during week. It’s great as written. I switched it this week and made it with leeks instead if onion and sweet potato instead of white for fun. It’s a very versatile recipe! I pressure cooked it in 8 minutes and voila! Added some pepitas and black salt. Omitted cream but sometimes add coconut milk to it. Such a perfect way to get some veggies in your diet. Thank you!

  2. Love the updates. It sounds as if you are all having a wonderful time (rain, notwithstanding). As for the recipe, it’s lovely and perfectly timed as I am looking at a fridge full of root vegetables. Thanks! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Karla! You’ve actually hit on a point I meant to bring up in the recipe headnotes. Keep the potatoes and onions in the mix, but beyond that, definitely substitute or add whatever root vegetables you like.