Country-style Cream of Vegetable Soup

Should you take a trip down memory line and visit this blog’s archive, you will discover quite a few cream of vegetable soups, courtesy of my picky eaters. Soup has long been a necessary means to an end around these parts as I try to entice kiddo to eat his vegetables. Add a chunk of baguette, a funny spoon and, chances are, he’ll make peace with his greens.

So, when I went looking for the perfect family recipe excerpted from my new À la bonne franquette cookbook, I headed right away for one of the soups. Celebrated Montreal chef Alexandre Loiseau from Bistro Cocagne on St.Denis Street had offered me a Cream of Vegetable Grand-Mère that perfectly fit the bill. Now if you are tempted to go “Pffft, a soup recipe, so much for that…”, don’t. Read the directives and you may be as intrigued as me.

Here, nothing is sautéed, ingredients are simply combined and simmered for an hour, including the butter! I like that all the vegetables are fresh including the tomatoes (I bought overripe ones at the discount counter in my local supermarket to get the maximum flavour since tomatoes are sooo out-of-season). For garnish, begone cream, behold grainy mustard and sour cream that provide a surprising kick.

The choice of vegetables is up to you. I settled for fennel, a few carrots and a big red onion. Fennel in soups and broths has become second nature to me after chef Marc De Canck from Montreal’s famed La Chronique revealed to me, during an interview years ago, that he uses star anise to bring out the taste of from-scratch vegetable broth. Fennel, star anise, Pernod… anise flavours have become my standby ever since.

Saying goodbye to onions or mirepoix slowly browned in butter for more flavour, I so love this soup technique from chef Loiseau that I used it to transform my usual Tomato and Fennel Soup shown here. Truth be told, it may even have surpassed the original, sorry Alexandre…

So here’s the first of two hearty soups to warm up body and soul in this frigid New Year: the Cream of Vegetable Grand-Mère from Bistro Cocagne. Come around for my upcoming post where I tweak my own Tomato and Fennel Soup with Parmesan. Both served “à la bonne franquette”, of course.


Alexandre Loiseau

In his cute bistro on Montreal’s trendy St.Denis street, this young chef has made a name for himself and his impeccable French-inspired cuisine.

Not surprising since he has trained under Normand Laprise at Toqué! and Joe Beef’s David McMillan no less. Dixit our chef: “My grand-mother always made soup, it’s the taste of my whole childhood! As a chef, I developed this recipe to capture some of the flavours that had me skipping with joy as a kid.” I knew chef Loiseau by reputation of course, but it’s actually Montreal Gazette fine dining critic Lesley Chesterman that suggested I invite him for this cookbook. Merci, Lesley!


  • 1. Large dice all root vegetables. Mince leeks and onions if using. In a large pot, combine all the ingredients, except mustard and sour cream, then simmer 1 hour.
  • 2. Remove bay leaf and thyme, then purée in blender. Strain for smoother texture if that’s your preference. Adjust seasoning and pour into soup bowls.
  • 3. In a small bowl, combine mustard and sour cream. Use to garnish soup before serving.