Recipes: However you pronounce it, Garbazh Soup is luscious and smooth

To some it may be pureed vegetable soup. But in my home, we fondly refer to it as garbazh — gar-bazh soup (sounds like garage with a “B” in the middle).

Pronounced in a haughty French accent, somehow the negative connotation of garbage never enters our minds. Instead, the image of luscious, smooth soup, rich in vegetables pops into our menu memories. This soup is so appreciated that it’s just as likely to show up at a birthday dinner party as a Tuesday night supper.

Made with a hodgepodge of on-hand vegetables chosen from remnants in the refrigerator produce drawer, the recipe can vary greatly from one time to the next. Two or three mild vegetables can be substituted at will. Green beans, zucchini, a small amount of green pepper, celery, celeriac (celery root), or leeks are good choices.

Strongly flavored vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, beets, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips and asparagus can be used, but they are so powerful that their flavor will override (or at least fight with) the other vegetables.

A glance at the recipe will give you an idea of the flavors you might want to substitute with a different vegetable. Certain ingredients, however, remain constant. I always try to include a handful of fresh baby spinach and parsley.

Garbazh Soup

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup chopped celery

1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 small green pepper, cored and seeded, chopped

1 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach

4 cups vegetable or chicken broth

Bouquet garni (see cook’s notes)

1/4 cup rice

About 1 to 2 cups of additional broth or half-and-half or whipping cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional garnishes: see step #3

Cook’s notes: To create a bouquet garni, enclose ingredients in either a double piece of cheesecloth or between 2 stalks of celery tied together with cotton string. Ingredients can include 1 bay leaf, 1 peeled clove garlic, 2 whole cloves and 1 or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried).


1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, place parsley, onion, celery, carrot, green pepper, spinach, broth, and bouquet garni. Stir in rice and bring mixture to boil on high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, for 35 minutes or until vegetables are all soft.

2. Remove bouquet garni and discard. Divide soup into 3 or 4 batches and process in food processor fitted with the metal blade (or puree the mixture in the pan using a handheld immersion blender). The soup will be a thick puree; add enough liquid to make it the proper consistency – adding either more broth, half-and-half or whipping cream. Heat soup and serve. Or cool and refrigerate, airtight, up to 2 days. Or freeze up to 2 months.

3. Optional garnishes include garlic croutons or a small dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche, or some chopped tomatoes and/or chopped chives. For a formal occasion, top with a spoonful of sour cream and a little caviar. Or, if serving a fat-conscious version without any cream in the mixture, drizzle tiny droplets of heavy whipping cream on top of the soup; place a small amount of cream in the bowl of a small spoon and drop onto top of soup in a swirl.

Cooking question? Contact Cathy Thomas at

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