A fall day in Paris – coffee and soup

London gets the bad rap of being rainy all the time, thought in recent weeks I’d say that Paris has been right up there with nonstop groggy and wet weather. Thankfully though, today has surprised us with some sun, making it imperative to get out of the house.

Heading out early instead of doing our usual coffee and paper routine at home was a perfect excuse to grab a cup of coffee downstairs at Café Coutume. We live in the courtyard right behind it, so we get to enjoy the nice smell of their roasting coffee beans quite frequently.

Café Coutume, Paris

Paris, an inner court on a sunny day

Montreal has excellent coffee spots that we miss at times, such as Café Olympico, Café Lily et Oli and The Italian Pantry, so it’s no surprise to find us scrambling to the nearest café in search of that warm and cozy neighbourhood feel – though warm and cozy isn’t exactly Paris’ forte. Lets face it, Parisian customer service sucks, and it is rare indeed to find courteous and smiling staff. While this coffee spot wouldn’t win awards for niceness outside Paris, service this morning was fine, and the actual coffee was absolutely delightful.

Coffee from Café Coutume, Paris

The owner is a friendly Australian chap (he wasn’t there this morning), and the place’s large windows and low tables give a welcoming schoolroom feel (perhaps because the elaborate collection of coffee making gadgets on the bar are remindful of a 1950’s school science lab). If the place’s nice facade isn’t enough to lure you in, the two seats at the end of the bar just may do it, as they’re almost on the street and seem to beg for the passer-by to stop in for a 5 minute coffee break.

Café Coutume, Paris

Paris, l'automne

After all this café lounging, I walked around my neighbourhood, picked up some knee high socks at Le Bon Marché, sniffed around a few fruit and vegetable stands, and even tried a new shade of lipstick. At some point though, one has to get productive and think of having lunch, so I decided to return home and prepare vegetable soup.

Paris, l'automne

Here’s an adaptation of recipes from some of my favourite cookbooks, all of which were left behind in Montreal. It’s really easy to make good vegetable soup, and almost anything can go in there – making it a bit of a fridge cleaner, really.


  • 3 or 4 carrots
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 3 medium sized potatoes or 1 big one
  • 3 onions
  • 3-4 cups chicken or beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 ½ cup of white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste

You’ll need a Moulin à legumes for this recipe – this tool will help you turn the vegetables into purée without the headache of pressing them yourself through a chinois – though this is doable too.

What’s brilliant about this recipe is the “pleasure to effort” ratio. It is really good, and hardly takes any work. What’s more, leftovers from the first serving can be revamped into a delicious crème, or complemented by adding barley or pasta.


Chop the onions into large wedges and place your pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, chop the carrots into round wedges and do the same with the potatoes so that the cooking time isn’t too long.

Vegetable soup

When your pot is hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil and throw the onions in. Let them sweat a little, and when they’re somewhat translucent, throw the carrot and potato wedges in there too. Mix them up with a wooden spoon and place the whole tomatoes on top.

Wet the vegetables with the white wine (i.e. a splash of wine); add the bay leaf and use the chicken broth to fill the pot until you almost cover the tomatoes.

Vegetable soup - en étapesVegetable soup, en étapes, a splash of white wineVegetable soup en étapes, adding the brothVegetable soup en étapes, all done for now

Bring the soup to a boil and turn the heat down a little to a strong simmer. Let it cook uncovered for at least 30 minutes. The soup has cooked enough when the potatoes and carrots are very soft – you can check with a knife or fork.

When your veggies are cooked and the mix smells delicious, use a ladle to gradually transfer the broth and vegetables into the moulin à légumes.

Vegetable soup, en étapes - le moulin à légumesVegetable soup en étapes, le moulin à légumesVegetable soup en étapes, le moulin à légumesVegetable soup en étapes, le moulin à légumesVegetable soup en étapes, le moulin à légumesVegetable soup en étapes, le produit fini

Once everything has been put through the Moulin, dispose of the vegetable excess in the Moulin and transfer the soup back into your pot. Heat for about ten minutes on low and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a bit of fresh parmesan and enjoy!

Vegetable soup maison


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Categories: Out and about


Aspiring food writer, serious traveler, media enthusiast and communications specialist from Montréal, Canada. www.facebook.com/LavoiealaBouche Follow me on twitter @aalavoie

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