low carb french vegetable soup

french vegetable soup

This low carb french vegetable soup is a pureed melange of caramelized leeks, fresh carrots, and healthy cauliflower. The soup is flavored with garlic and cayenne pepper for a spicy yet subtle delight. A modest amount of butter, added at the end of the cooking process, provides creaminess without making the soup too heavy. If you crave bowls of healthy soup to warm the Autumn months, this french vegetable soup is for you!

Three months ago, Kenny and I set out on an epic trip to France. I love to travel but I don’t have a desire to see as many countries as possible. I enjoy traveling through Europe [mostly France and Germany] and exploring the United States [anything east of the Mississippi River]. I would unapologetically return to Paris, Berlin, or New York another dozen times rather than visit Asia or South America even once. Call me close minded but I call it intentional. I know what I like.

french vegetable soup

Both Kenny and I are Francophiles who were yearning to return to Paris since our last trip in 2017. When the pandemic broke out, we didn’t know when or if it would be safe to travel to Europe again. We rewatched episodes of Rick Steve’s Europe wondering, “will it ever be the same again?”

Closely monitoring the border laws for European travel, we were elated when France opened up its doors to vaccinated U.S. travelers in June of 2021. The surge of pent up travel energy carried us to our computers and within an hour we had booked two round trip flights to France! Our 10 night itinerary consisted of 5 nights in Paris, 2 nights in Lyon, and 3 magical nights in Beaune [a lovely town in the heart of Burgundian wine country].

The trip was unforgettable and every minute was pure joy. We had an even greater appreciation for the travel opportunity since the world had been on lock down for so long. We took many memorable walks, visited all the museums, and enjoyed unforgettable meals at French cafes. With the generous abundance of amazing food and pastries, I was shocked that a simple vegetable soup would be one of my most memorable bites.

Kenny and I spent one of our days strolling through Île Saint-Louis, working up an appetite that only traditional French fare would satisfy. On recommendation from our Rick Steve’s guidebook, we ended up at Cafe Med to rest and refuel. We sat outside in one of the cutest Parisian streets you can imagine. Our lunch consisted of savory and sweet crepes, served with the traditional hard cider [delicious!]. The food was great and the ambiance was even better but the thing that caught me off guard was the potage aux legume (french vegetable soup).

Expecting a bowl of hot broth with chunky vegetables, I was pleasantly surprised when presented with an elegant bowl of orange pureed soup. The first sip blew my mind. So many different flavors, melded perfectly together with just the right touch of acid. Intrigued, I asked the proprietor about the vegetables in the soup and she kindly offered up her secret. “Carrots, leeks, and potatoes.” That’s it! Three simple vegetables, expertly cooked together to create a delicious, satisfying dish. Therein lies the essence of French cuisine.

Returning from our trip and recovering from a vacation hangover I started tinkering with ingredients to recreate the soup. I remembered the flavors and knew I wanted to add a dash of cayenne pepper, a hit of bright lemon juice, and a touch of butter to help it blend up nice and creamy. Trying to make the soup a little less carb-y, I omitted the potatoes and added a healthy dose of cauliflower florets instead. To get deep flavor from the few simple ingredients, I caramelized the dark green parts of the leeks [often thrown away in other recipes] and added a bit of garlic. The resulting soup is absolutely delightful and I’ve been making it every week since our return from the City of Light.

If you want more French inspired recipes, try:

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french vegetable soup

low carb french vegetable soup


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  • Author: Sepideh Esmaili Campos

Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 leeks
  • 2 Tablespoons ghee or olive oil
  • Kosher salt, (reduce amounts by half if using fine salt)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 24 ounces cauliflower florets
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth, low sodium or homemade
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted cold butter
  • Juice of 1 fresh lemon
  • Fresh cracked black pepper

Optional garnishes:

  • Drizzle of creme fraiche or yogurt
  • Microgreens
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Crispy, crumbed bacon
  • Crusty baguette and butter as an accompaniment

Instructions

  1. To prepare the leeks, cut off the roots and throw them away.
  2. Cut the leeks in half separating the dark green parts from the light green and white parts.
  3. Slice the dark green portions of the leeks, place in a large bowl of cold filtered water, use your fingers to agitate the leeks and dislodge any grit and dirt trapped between the layers. Lift the dark greens out of the water (being sure to leave the grit and dirt behind) and transfer to a colander.
  4. Repeat this process with the light green and white parts of the leeks but place them separate from the dark green slices.
  5. The dark green slices of leeks will take longer to cook so you’ll caramelize them first.
  6. Heat the ghee in a soup pot over medium high heat until melted and shimmering.
  7. Add the dark green parts of the leeks to the ghee along with 1 teaspoon salt.
  8. Cover the pot and cook (stirring occasionally) until the dark greens are tender, about 15 minutes.
  9. Add the light green and white parts of the leeks to the pot along with ½ teaspoon salt.
  10. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes (stirring occasionally).
  11. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  12. Add the carrots, cauliflower, broth, and water to the pot.
  13. Bring to a simmer.
  14. Then cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the vegetables are very soft and can be smashed with the back of a spoon. About 30-45 minutes.
  15. Add the cayenne pepper and butter to the soup.
  16. Off the heat, use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it’s completely smooth. This can take 3-5 minutes depending on the strength of your immersion blender.
  17. If you don’t have an immersion blender, ladle the soup into a blender (in batches) until completely smooth. Don’t fill the blender all the way because steam will build up and hot soup will explode out when you try to open the blender.
  18. I like the soup to be thick and smooth so I don’t add any more liquid. However, if you prefer a thinner soup, add a little bit of water (¼ cup at a time) until you reach the consistency you like.
  19. Add the
  20. Add ½ teaspoon salt and the juice of half a lemon to the soup. Combine and taste. Add more lemon and salt to suit your palette.
  21. Garnish if desired and serve hot as is or with a nice crusty baguette.
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