Spring Vegetable Soup


  • 1 small carrot
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 leek
  • 1 small turnip
  • 3 oz / 85 g mixture of asparagus tips, green beans and mangetout
  • bunch of watercress
  • 2 tbsp dried cannellini or haricot beans, well rinsed
  • parsley stalks
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • mushroom peelings
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 3 pt / 1.70 l water salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of ground mace


First prepare the garnish by washing and peeling or trimming the carrot, celery, leek and turnip. Reserve the outer peelings. Finely shred about a tablespoon of the white part of the leek, and finely dice enough celery, carrot and turnip to give you another 2 tablespoons of vegetables. Cover and put to one side with the asparagus tips, green beans and mangetout. Reserve a few of the watercress sprigs. Put the rest of the ingredients, including the dried beans and the reserved vegetable peelings, in a saucepan with the water, bring to the boil, and cook for 1 hour. Put the prepared garnish in a clean saucepan with the reserved watercress. Strain the broth on top of it, and bring to the boil. Season to taste, and serve when the vegetables are just tender.


When forced rhubarb is available in early spring, it makes a welcome addition to this clear vegetable broth. Cut the rhubarb into 1 in / 2.5 cm pieces, then cut each piece into four thin batons. Add these to the garnish mixture of asparagus tips, green beans, mangetout and chopped vegetables.

For a summer version, use chopped spring onions, shredded lettuce and spinach or sorrel, watercress, young peas and a handful of herbs as garnishing.