A news story out of Paris the other day had it that President de Gaulle, busy streamlining the French economy, was planning to abolish Les Halles, the great central food market of Paris, as being antiquated and inefficient. Progress must be made. And no doubt the needs of today's population will be better served by a modern, decentralized market system. But a legion of Americans—and Paris visitors of every other nationality—will mourn the passing of Les Halles, where a restorative plate of cabbage soup or onion soup tasted so wonderfully satisfying at dawn after late revels.
Not the least of the charms of this market were the marketmen, husky and hale, smelling of hay, joking, singing and imbibing soup as they started their day's work.
Soupe aux choux,
Du Boulevard St. Germain.
"Cabbage soup, the people's broth, the truffled partridge of the Left Bank"—so runs a rough translation of one verse of an old French army song.
Well, cabbage soup can taste just as fresh and invigorating for supper here as it did in the wee hours at Les Halles. I never found out exactly how the classic was made there, but the recipes given at right are both Gallic and both satisfactory. Even people who habitually dislike cabbage (English Author P. Morton Shand writes, "There is obscenity in the very word") should accept these preparations as uncabbagy and verdant delights. Nutritionists in recent years have advocated the quick cooking of cabbage as beneficial to the retention of vitamins. The quick cooking also means everything to the taste and appearance, not to mention the smell, of the vegetable—as the best French cooks have known for centuries.
Cabbage soup, properly made, is almost a meal in itself, and he who eats it for a light supper never misses meat. It is therefore, for many, a dish especially worth considering at the beginning of Lent.
Cabbage cooked green takes fresh butter (not bacon or lard) boiled with it and, if cheese is used, freshly grated Gruy�re or Parmesan (not grated cheese bought in a package). Both of the soups described below are prettiest if made with green savoy cabbage, ruffled like a Dior petticoat. They are best served with hot cro�tes of bread (SI, Jan. 26).
QUICK SOUPE AUX CHOUX (serves four)
I learned about this soup many years ago from the redoubtable chef of the Normandie, the late Magrin. He remarked that he liked to make it for himself, for he had learned the recipe from his little mother. This dish, shown in the photograph on the opposite page, can be prepared in half an hour.
� medium cabbage, in one piece
4 peeled medium potatoes
4 cleaned leeks
� cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
butter the size of a walnut