By Meg Claire
Potage, or soupe au potiron, is a hearty, earthy soup which dates back to the Middle Ages. First recorded in northern France, it was served as the first course of a medieval feast. The recipe then traveled over to England where simpler versions became the mainstay of the peasant diet for years. It’s an old joke that French brides are surprised to learn that their mother-in-law’s recipe for soupe au potiron is not made with actual potiron (pumpkin), but with butternut squash. Read Julia Child, as she tends to be the ultimate source of all Potage-based histories.
Of course, the vegan conundrum is that most Potages are finished with gruyere and/or cream. My Potage uses russet potatoes to support a creamy texture, and leeks to add depth of flavor. Nutritional yeast helps out in the absence of gruyere.
In other news, happily, this is one vegetable soup that can easily handle a light red wine. Look for wines – even bargains – from Burgundy. This year’s Beaujolais Nouveau comes out in November, and is rumored to be pretty good. Pair this Potage with a warming wine, a few slices of baguette, and curl up by the fire to savor.
2 tablespoons Earth Balance, butter substitute, or olive oil
5 cups of peeled, cubed butternut squash (about 1 ½ pounds)
2 cups peeled, cubed russet potatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups well-rinsed, sliced leek (about 2 large)
4 ½ cups vegetable broth (I use Better than Bouillon)
½ cup nutritional yeast
Chopped chives or scallions (optional)
Melt Earth Balance in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add squash, potato, salt and pepper. Sauté about 5 minutes. Add leek; sauté another minute. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potato is tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Turn heat off, set pot aside. Set up a blender or food processor. Carefully pour half the soup into it and blend until smooth. Pour back into the Dutch oven. Repeat the blending with the second half of soup, and then add to the pureed soup in the Dutch oven. Stir in nutritional yeast over low heat until fully incorporated. Top with chopped chives or scallions, and additional ground pepper, if desired.