A vegetable soup recipe from Geneva, Soupe de la Mère Royaume — also known as the Soupe de l’Escalade — has become one of my children’s favorites.
Soupe de la Mere Royaume is connected to Geneva’s annual celebration, the Fête de l’Escalade. During this celebration, Geneva commemorates the successful thwarting of the Duke of Savoy’s attempt to gain control over the city. On December 11, 1602, the Duke directed more than 2,000 of his troops to scale the city walls in order to claim it for the Savoyards. That evening, the courageous citizens of Geneva fought off the soldiers and saved their city.
During the attack on Geneva by the Savoyards, legend has it that a woman known as Mère Royaume (Mother Kingdom) threw her heavy cauldron of hot soup out the window onto the soldiers below. Today, you will find many different versions of her famous vegetable soup. A recipe from Swissmilk was the inspiration for my own take on this traditional dish. I have included seasonal vegetables from this region that would have been used during that time period: cabbage, onions, turnips and leeks, as indicated by the Alimentarium.
Soupe de la Mère Royaume
– a small knob of butter
– 135 grams (4.75 ounces) bacon, chopped
– 1 leek, halved and thinly sliced, both the white and green parts
– 1 onion (about 1 cup), finely chopped
– 1 cup finely chopped turnip
– 1 cup (about 1-2 carrots), grated
– 1 cup cabbage, thinly sliced
– 50 grams rice
– 1.5 liters vegetable broth
– 0.5 liters water
– a small handful of fresh chervil or cilantro, finely chopped
1. In a large saucepan, add the bacon and butter and cook over medium-high heat. Sauté until the fat renders out and the bacon becomes somewhat browned and crispy.
2. Add the onions and leek to the saucepan. Stir together and cook for about 5 minutes until they become fragrant and tender.
3. Put the rest of the vegetables into the pot: turnip, carrots and cabbage. Sauté for a few minutes, stirring almost constantly.
4. Finally, add the vegetable broth, water, herbs and rice. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the rice and vegetables become soft and tender. Serve immediately.
“Smashing a Chocolate Cauldron for Geneva’s Fête de l’Escalade” (Dec. 2017)