Thomas Keller’s Spring Vegetable Garbure


For those of you (including me before I read the recipe) who don’t know what a Vegetable Garbure is, it’s basically a vegetable soup full of big chunks of vegetables and beans. 

I’ve been working long hours at the restaurant and by the time I get home I’m rarely in the mood to cook so I thought I would make something easy and nutritious that I can reheat and eat this week.  I went back to the Ad Hoc cookbook to see what Thomas Keller had for me.  I found his spring vegetable soup and thought it would be the perfect light dinner for the week! 

I am starting to understand what makes a recipe a “Thomas Keller recipe”. 

1.) Take simple, delicious ingredients

2.) Cook each ingredient a different way before putting them all in the same pot

3.) Create recipe that seems to be unnecessarily time consuming but is so good that people can’t help but to give it a try.  *sigh*

That being said, I see why he takes the time to do each extra step, but when it takes me 2.5 hours to make a vegetable soup I start to wonder if the end result is worth the tired feet.  Good thing this is food for a week!

I dedicate this post to my foodie aunt up in Boston. I tweaked this recipe and made it completely vegetarian! 

Thomas Keller’s Spring Vegetable Garbure

Adapted from the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook



3 tbs canola oil

2 cups thinly sliced carrots

2 cups of coarsely chopped leaks

2 cups of coarsely chopped onions

salt and pepper

(he uses pig skin to sweat the vegetables… I’ll explain later.  I used parchment paper for SEVERAL reasons)

3 yellow potatoes

3 red potatoes

1 bouquet garnis with a bay lead and thyme

2 cups of oblique cut carrots (to be used a bit later in the recipe)

8 ounces of asparagus – I estimated about 6 spears

8 cups of vegetable broth (Thomas Keller calls for chicken stock but to keep this purely vegetarian I went with vegetable broth.  I’m ashamed to admit that I used cubes instead of stock in a box but since I don’t have a car, carrying bouillon cubes home was a LOT easier than carriying 4 boxes of vegetable broth home.)

1lb fava beans ( I eat enough fava beans at work so I used habichuelas instead.  Completely different bean but same protein.  It’s fine!)

1 cup sliced green beans

1 cup of peas

1 small head of Savoy cabbage

2 cups of cooked garbanzo beans (you can use cannelini or white beans here too)

Red wine vinegar (he doesn’t say how much to use to I gave the almost finished soup a nice little drizzle and that’s it)

flat leaf parsley.



Sweat the thinly sliced carrots, onions and leaks in a large pot.  Cover the pot with parchment paper to keep most of the steam in to help the vegetables along.

IMG_3888IMG_3889 TK’s version of the parchment lid is a lot fancier than mine.  It’s circular and looks pretty enough to be a doily.  Mine is a little rough around the edges but serves its purpose.  He doesn’t even use a parchment paper lid in his recipe though.  He uses pig skin from the butcher to give the broth flavor and a little fat.  I’m pretty sure that the Whole Foods near me doesn’t always have pig skin on hand… so I went with the paper.  Pig skin? Really?

When the vegetables are slightly cooked and a little glossy looking add the vegetable stock and let the vegetables simmer for about 20 minutes.


While the vegetables are cooking, peel your potatoes and cut them first length wise and then in half to make medium size pieces. 


These two potatoes have different color skins but look pretty similar once they are peeled.  Ah the lessons you can learn about judging a potato by it’s cover.  ok.. I might be getting a little too philosophic here with my spudson with the recipe.IMG_3892  Put the potatoes in a pot with the “bouquet garnis” and salt. IMG_3894 Cover the potatoes in cold water and boil them for about 10 minutes.  When they are done, put them out on a cookie sheet to cool.

Once the vegetables are done cooking in the broth, strain the broth and discard the vegetables. (I kept my mushy cooked veggies.  I tasted them and they tasted amazing so I think I’ll stir them into rice for dinner later in the week!  I just couldn’t throw away all that flavor.)

At this point I started on the rest of the vegetables.  Cut the tips off the green beans and cut them into thirds.  Snap the asparagus ends off and cut them into 1 inch pieces and cut the cabbage into 6 wedges.

IMG_3897 IMG_3895 IMG_3896
Thomas Keller says to take the oblique-cut carrots and simmer them in water along with another bouquet garnis and some honey.  I ran out of pots so I just simmered them with the other vegetables when they were cooking and fished them out.  Not the easiest thing to do but I cut out one of the steps.  To add the sweetness I’m sure the honey would have brought to the carrots I drizzled a little on them once they were done cooking (not even a tablespoon).

In another pot (who has that many pots?!! I used the one that I boiled the potatoes in), bring water and 2 teaspoons of salt to a boil and blanch your asparagus, green beans, peas and cabbage.  Transfer them immediately to a ice bath to stop the cooking process.  This makes sure that they stay really green!

IMG_3900 Pretty swimming veggies! It almost looks like a fish tank.

Once all the vegetables are blanched put them back in the vegetable broth infused with all the flavor and nutrients from the carrots, onions and leeks.  Add the potatoes and your two types of beans and drizzle with a little red wine vinegar.  Boil for a few minutes and you’re done! (finally.)IMG_3904

Finish the soup with some fresh parsley and it’s time to eat!

 After sitting down and eating my lovely bowl of Spring Vegetable Garbure I understood why TK asked me to follow so many steps.  The potatoes, boiled with the bay leaf and thyme, had SO much flavor.  I think I’ll put thyme in my water when boiling potatoes from now on.  The vegetables, thanks to the blanching and the quick dip in the ice bath, were green, crisp and delicious.  The potatoes were perfectly cooked.  The broth itself was great.  I sometimes think that vegetable broth lacks some depth of flavor.  By cooking vegetables in vegetable broth it basically doubled the flavor.  Time consuming but genius.

The soup was fresh, satisfying and painted the perfect picture of a light spring dinner. 





Checking in…

It took my sister writing me an email asking me if I was really so busy at work that I didn’t have time to post on this blog to remind me that it had been a while since my last entry.  I’m sorry! 

It’s spring in Washington, D.C. which means the start of the events season.  D.C. and its party planners are coming out of hibernation and that equals busy days and late nights for me.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking but I have to admit I’ve tried a few recipes that haven’t really turned out the way I wanted them to.  It’s important to admit defeat but there is no need to post said defeats.

Between events and simple dinners I’ve taken up running again!  I had previously hurt my knee but our February snow gave me the perfect excuse to sit back and relax and give myself time to get better for Spring!  I signed up for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler a while back and I was determined to get back into shape in time to run it.  It is only a week away!  While I don’t have any recipes for you this time, I do have a few pictures I’ve taken while running these past few weeks.  Thanks to my iPhone that I always have with me for phone/googlemaps/camera purposes I can documents my runs!

Running has given me the opportunity to explore parts of the city I would rarely typically go to, mainly around the monuments.  photo(5) Despite the large numbers of tourists (we love you all, don’t get me wrong!) in town this week for the Cherry Blossom Festival I took a run around the monuments to see the trees in bloom.  I had never been around the monuments at dusk before. Beautiful! 


photo(3) photo(4) To switch it up I ran around Roosevelt Island on Saturday.  I have to say it’s been nice rediscovering my city.  I promise to get back to cooking and baking soon. 


Happy Spring everyone!