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Garbure refers to a soup from Aquitaine in the south-west of France containing cabbage, pork or duck, seasonal or dried beans, a feast of vegetables and bread. In old cookbooks, the garbures that were common in Europe were thick soups containing lots of cabbage and were baked with layers of bread and a good garbure was said to hold a spoon upright.

Nowadays we like our soup a bit less stodgy and less “cabbagey” and this is an easy and delicious recipe  based on the seasonal thick vegetable soup from the French region of Aquitaine. You can use almost any vegetables that are in season making this a versatile dish for all year round.

Preparation: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 2 ½ hours approx.

Ingredients for 4 people:

2 litres of chicken stock
250g carrots peeled and cut into chunks
250g leeks sliced thickly
5 potatoes (optional depending on how thick you like your soup!)
250g turnips (swede will work well too or parsnip) – peeled and chopped
200g haricot beans (or broad beans or tinned flageolet beans)
1 onions peeled and finely chopped
2 crushed cloves of garlic
bouquet garni: parsley, bay and thyme
1/2 large green cabbage (or savoy cabbage)
3 pieces of goose confit or salt pork (or 6 slices of bacon chopped)
50 g of fatty bacon or goose fat
3-4 slices of stale bread (or fresh – it doesn’t really matter!)
salt and pepper


Bring the stock to the boil in a large pot.

Add the chopped vegetables and beans to the water and bring to the boil again.

Add the bacon or goose confit, onions, crushed garlic and bouquet garni and season with salt and pepper, cover the pot and leave to simmer gently for about 2 hours.

Cut the cabbage into pieces and blanch for 5 minutes in a pan of boiling water. Then immediately pass under cold water from the tap and strain. Add to the pot of simmering vegetables together with the fatty bacon or goose fat.

Carry on simmering for about half an hour. Remove the bouquet garni from the pot. Toast the stale slices of bread and place them in the bottom of a serving dish, pour  the garbure over the top of the toast  and season to taste. It’s often served with big hunks of lovely fresh bread and sprinkled with olive oil and vinegar.

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