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Garbure (French vegetable and bean soup)
Garbure (French vegetable and bean soup)Sheryl Julian for The Boston Globe

Serves 8

Garbure (gahr-BURR), a rustic peasant soup from the Pyrenees region in southwest France, is eaten year-round. Rural families might keep a pot of garbure simmering on the back of the stove all week, adding meat and vegetables each day.  It can contain pork, ham, or duck confit, and always cabbage, potatoes, and white beans. Additional vegetables — asparagus, green beans, peas, and favas in spring — vary by what the garden offers. Start with a pot large enough to hold the vegetables, pork, and 10 cups of liquid; garbure is a meal in a bowl. If you need to, quick-soak the beans: Bring them to a boil in water to cover, cover with the lid, and let them sit for 1 hour. Drain and add to the soup as directed. For the maximum garbure experience, do as the locals do (this is called faire chabrot): When you have a few spoonfuls of soup left, pour a bit of red wine from your glass into your bowl, swirl together, and slurp directly from the bowl.

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2tablespoons vegetable oil
1pound boneless pork butt
1large onion, chopped
2leeks (white and light green parts), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
6carrots, thickly sliced on the diagonal
3cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
½small head green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 5 cups)
1cup dried white beans, soaked
overnight and drained
6cups water, or more if needed
4cups chicken stock, or more if needed
1pound small red or golden potatoes (about 15), cut into 1-inch pieces
2large handfuls green beans, ends trimmed, cut in half or 1½ cups frozen peas or 1½ cups fresh shelled fava beans
1bunch asparagus, tough ends snapped off, spears cut in 1-inch pieces
2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the pork and brown on all sides.  Transfer to a plate.

2. Add the onion, leeks, carrots, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 7 minutes or until the vegetables soften. Add the cabbage and cook 2 minutes more. Return the pork to the pot with any juices on the plate. Add the beans, water, and stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and set on the cover askew. Simmer for 1½ hours.

3. Add the potatoes and continue simmering for 45 minutes. Add more stock or water if the mixture seems too thick.

4. Add the green beans, peas, or fava beans with the asparagus. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables soften but are still bright green. Total simmering time is 2 hours and 20 minutes.

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5. Remove the pork from the pot and use two forks to shred it, discarding any gristle. Return to the pot. Taste the soup for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sprinkle with parsley and ladle into wide shallow bowls. Jill Gibson


Jill Gibson can be reached at jrgibson22@gmail.com.