French soup is an umbrella term used for a range of soups that essentially originated in France and are made using special French ingredients. Traditionally, most of the ingredients used in the soups are regional French produces. Based on where the soups are being prepared, different ingredients are used and the recipes differ as well.
The term is often erroneously used interchangeably with French Onion soup. Onion soup is, however, just one of the various French soups which have become extremely popular and are considered a delicacy all over the world.
French soups have been an important part of the French cuisine since ancient times.
French Soup Recipes: Common Ingredients Used
Traditionally, there were two types of soups in France - clear and thick, classified based on the ingredients used. While the simple clear soups consist of consommé and bouillon only, the thick soups are more complex preparations. Ingredients ranging from vegetables like onions, peppers and tomatoes to meats like pork, beef and chicken are commonly used to make soups. A wide array of flavoring agents and condiments are also used to add taste to the preparations.
There is no single recipe to make a particular French soup and there are, therefore, no fixed ingredients.
Water, butter, salt and pepper are the most commonly used ingredients and these are a part of just about all French soups.
French Soup Recipes: Preparation Overview
Based on the type of French soup being made, and also based on individual tastes and preferences, the ingredients are selected. They are then prepared as required and mixed. The preparation time and methods depend on the recipe being followed. Mostly, however, the cooking times range from 15 minutes to as much as an hour or two. The preparation method is usually cooking. Traditionally, the soups were slow-cooked but in modern times, these are made on stoves and hot plates, which greatly reduced the cooking time.
Cheese is one of the most important ingredients used in preparation of French soups. Grated cheese is almost always sprinkled over soups before they are consumed.
French Soup: Serving and Eating
French soups are served throughout the day and can either be a meal all by themselves, a starter before a major meal, or a part of a major breakfast, lunch or dinner meal. Both hot and cold soups are prepared and consumed. These can also be eaten as a snack. Breads, noodles and rice, to name a few, are common accompaniments. Cheese and toasted breadcrumbs are usually sprinkled over soups before they are served.
French Soup Recipes: Popular Variations
- French Onion Soup or Soupe à l'oignon is probably the most popular and widely consumed French soup. It is considered a delicacy in not only France, but all over the world. It is essentially an onion soup made with beef broth or beef stock. Croutons and cheese are used as toppings.
- French Onion Soup or Soupe a l'ail is made from garlic and chicken stock. Grated cheese is used as a topping and duck fat is an important ingredient in the preparation of the soup.
- Green Bean Soup or Soupe aux Haricots Verts is a French Soup made from French green beans, smoked bacon and double cream.
- Garbure is a very filling soup made with thick meat, beans and vegetable soup. This is a very famous traditional recipe from Southwestern France. It is mostly served as supper over two courses in a major lunch or dinner meal.
French Soup: Trivia
- Traditional soups were made in France in ‘toupin’ a large, earthenware pot with a rounded belly. Many chefs still believe that this is the best pot to cook the soups in.
- French soup, in the traditional form, is always cooked slowly, over a low fire. Traditionalists believe that slow cooking makes soups smooth and flavorsome.