Elegant, Little-Black-Dress-useful, kitchen garden soup

“All these people eating raw food and then having terrible wind and digestive problems. Just cook your vegetables. Have a soup”

Super-facialist Alexandra Soveral, interviewed in The Financial Times


I got this incredibly utilitarian recipe out of an incredibly unutilitarian magazine – Vogue – some decades ago.

It’s basically a way of using up all the slightly brown at the edges, wilted, and elderly looking lettuce, and other leaves of one kind or another (spinach, watercress, rocket etc), together with a couple of long-in-the-tooth, less than lively potatoes you may have lurking in your vegetable rack.

But, incredibly, it is elegant.

So perhaps I’m maligning it, perhaps it’s the culinary version of the Little Black Dress…very much in Vogue and therefore not so surprising that that’s where I found it.

Of course, because it’s more of a concept than a specific recipe, it varies with what you have in your fridge, and the season, in terms of colour and consistency. The quantities given below are just the roughest guide.

You can throw in any strips of parma ham you may encounter whilst searching for the other ingredients.

If it’s a bit too thick either add some cider during the cooking process, or serve with Marsala – surprisingly good.


Recipe for elegant, Little-Black-Dress-useful, kitchen garden soup


For six


  • 100g/4 oz – a bunch of watercress
  • Half a cucumber – well – throw in whatever you have
  • 2 small potatoes or one truly giant one – whatever you have
  • Collection of stray lettuce leaves – comprising half to a whole head of lettuce
  • Couple of walnuts of butter
  • 840 ml/3½ cups chicken stock (either bought or made with water and 5 tsps chicken stock power)
  • 170ml/⅔ cup single cream (or yoghurt)
  • Bunch of parsley (or any other herbs you find lurking – or you have a glut)
  • Smoked salt
  • Sweet, smoked paprika


  1. Peel the potatoes, and slice those, and everything else (retaining some of the parsley for garnish), stalk and skin and all. Chop the lot quite finely.
  2. Melt the butter and stew everything for about ten minutes.
  3. Pour over hot stock. Add 1 tsp smoked salt.
  4. Bring to the boil, and then simmer (in the simmering oven if you have an aga), covered, for about half an hour.
  5. At the last minute, stir in the cream or yoghurt.
  6. Serve garnished with the parsley and the paprika.


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