Basque Country Soup::Potage Garbure

Coming soon…..Pyrénées Pilgrimage.…a travel adventure following author L. Peat O’Neil’s solo walk from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean through the Pyrenees Mts. along the French Pilgrimage path of Saint Jacques de Compostelle. Rend adventures and mis-adventures along the way including a stay in a local hospital after a broken wrist, interviewing survivors of the Nazi Occupation and private viewings of works by celebrated artists.  The rarest event?  A close encounter with two wild boars tusk-to-tusk in a highland field on a rainy evening. Were they playing or fighting over turf?

Recipe from:  Pyrénées Pilgrimage, a travel adventure by L. Peat O’Neil,                                      

Basque Country Soup from the Pyrénées Atlantiques Region

Garbure or potage is standard Basque fare, made every season. The ingredients change to what is locally in season. Fall, winter and early spring versions include root vegetables. Spring potage includes ripe fava beans.  A summer version contains green beans, tomatoes, and new potatoes. The soup base is ham, white beans, and cabbage.

Potage  — Garbure

4 quarts water

2 cups dried white navy beans, soaked in water for 8 to 10 hours

1 bouquet garni

1 pound ham shank (omit for vegetarian version)

2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

4 to 6 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 small cabbage, cored, and sliced into short strips or 1 inch squares

3 leeks, thoroughly washed, trimmed, and coarsely chopped

4 red peppers, cored and sliced into julienne strips

1/2 cup garlic, minced

1 tablespoons sea salt or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground white pepper

Place 4 quarts water, the white beans, the bouquet garni, and the ham shank in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the carrots, onion, potatoes, cabbage, leeks, garlic, and red pepper. Season.  Return to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add more water if necessary.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Cook until the vegetables are soft but not mushy.  Remove the bouquet garni and ham shank. Discard the bouquet garni. Remove meat from shank and add to soup or serve separately.

Walking on the  through the Pyrenees Mountains, the author tastes local food and wine.  Includes distinctive recipes.