When asked about eating a plant-forward diet, I tell people I eat like a queen. But when cooking meals that are hearty, healthy, and cost-effective, I’m really eating like a peasant. And everyone will love this French Peasant Soup recipe, no matter what your Royal status is!
I First Tried Peasant Soup in France
The recipe I’m sharing with you today reminds me of the French peasant soup I ate in Southern France.
In the early 1980s, I was on a group tour of Spain and France. After a harrowing bus ride through the Pyrenees Mountains, we stopped for lunch at the French border.
Our group was large, so we were seated in a room with a couple of long, wood tables and benches. The waitresses immediately brought out large carafes of rich burgundy wine and steaming loaves of coarse bread.
Next, they brought out huge bowls of steaming vegetable stew, which our tour guide said was peasant soup. It was absolutely divine. In fact, of all the meals I ate during my trip, this soup is the one I remember the most.
What is Peasant Food?
Historically, peasant foods were dishes made from a person’s garden and whatever leftover kitchen scraps they could snag from their service at the manor. The scraps were paired with grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and occasionally eggs or meats. They were further flavored with herbs and spices and made into hearty and filling stews, pottages, and even desserts. Since meats were so scarce, cows and chickens were usually used for milk and eggs – not dinner.
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Many foods we revere now were once considered peasant foods in various countries. (Mincemeat pie, anyone?)
Peasant foods are still made from inexpensive grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and meats. They’re perfect for using up foods nearing their expiration dates and are quick and easy to make. Mix these goodies with some herbs and spices, and you have a wonderful and easy “French Peasant Stew.”
French Peasant Soup Ingredients
Here’s a photo of the ingredients I used for my peasant soup recipe. I use what I had on hand and include fresh herbs from my garden. Ingredients include olive oil, carrots, celery, yellow zucchini, leeks, mushrooms, vegetable broth, beans, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf. I used white kidney beans for my soup, but you can use whatever beans you prefer.
Instructions for Cooking French Peasant Soup
Over high heat, add the sliced mushrooms to the hot pan and allow the mushrooms to sweat and brown. If using fresh herbs, place them on top of the mushrooms. The steam will help subtly impart the herbs’ oils into the mixture.
Add oil, crushed garlic, leeks, carrots, and zucchini to the pan and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add the vegetable broth and beans, then cover the pan. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the carrots are soft. Remove from the stove and If you used fresh herbs, be sure to take them out before serving!
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Salt and pepper to taste, then serve with a slice of crusty bread and your favorite full-bodied red wine.
If you make this recipe, please leave a comment below and let me know how it turns out for you! You can also share a photo of your dish on my Instagram account with the hashtag #thrivingwithless – Bon Appetit!