Maman Blanc's vegetable and chervil soup

This recipe is courtesy of chef Raymond Blanc. He explains...

"A small tribute to 'Maman Blanc'. And I should say to Papa Blanc too, as most of the vegetables would come from his garden. The success of this soup depends upon the freshness and quality of the vegetables used.

"However, you can vary the vegetables and herbs according to the season. Chervil is one of my favourite herbs and is very popular in France, but less well known in the UK, although you can find it in most supermarkets now."


Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10-12 minutes

1 onion, cut into 3m (1/8 in) dice
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 large carrots, cut into slices 3mm (1/4in) thick
3 celery sticks, cut into slices 5mm (1/4in) thick
2 leeks, 2 outer layers removed, cut into slices 1cm (1/2in) thick
15g (1/2oz) unsalted butter
1 large courgette, halved lengthways and cut into slices 5mm (1/4in) thick
2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1-litre (1 ¾ pints) boiling water
A large handful of fresh chervil, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon crème fraiche (or a large tub) or 15g
(1/2oz) unsalted butter


Achieving the perfect results

Sweating the vegetables:

  • On a medium heat, in a large saucepan, soften the onion, garlic, carrots, celery and leeks in the butter for 5 minutes, without letting them colour (this helps to extract maximum flavour).
  • Season with eight pinches of salt and two pinches of white pepper

Cooking the soup:

  • Add the courgette, tomatoes and boiling water (using boiling water reduces the cooking time and also helps keep the colours bright).
  • Boil fast for 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.
  • Stir in the chopped chervil.

Finishing the soup:

  • Whisk in the crème fraiche or butter (or both, if you wish).
  • Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary, then serve.
  • This soup can be pureed in a blender if you prefer a smooth texture.

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