Everything You Need to Know About Making Garbure – With a Video

Garbure is a hearty rustic soup beloved throughout Gascony, that combines slow-cooked vegetables of all kinds and savory preserved meats like duck confit, ham, and salt-cured ventrèche. This is French country cooking at its best: deeply nourishing and satisfying. Watch Ariane make garbure with her daughter Alix and learn more about this tasty tradition.

Garbure (pronounced GAHR-boohr) is one of the native dishes of Gascony, with endless variations, depending on the season, the home and the cook. Although there isn’t a definitive recipe, certain regional specialties are essential to impart the characteristic flavors of Southwest France.

For example, duck stock enhanced with thick pieces of ventrèche, and the rind of prosciutto or bone from an aged Jambon de Bayonne; or stock from meaty ham hocks, and aged pork fatback minced with garlic and herbs. All manner of duck and goose confit – and fat – can be found in a rich garbure.

In autumn you may find flavorful grilled chestnuts and beautiful Savoy cabbage in the pot and in winter you will find root vegetables and creamy haricots Tarbais. When spring arrives there will be fava beans or the tender second shoots of young cabbages, and in summer perhaps bright tomatoes and roasted red peppers.

Whatever the ingredients, a proper garbure should be so thick that a wooden spoon placed in the center of the pot will stand on its own. As Ariane says, this is soup you can eat with a fork.

Watch Ariane and her daughter Alix make a pot of garbure and then try your hand at it.

A Fitting End

As you will see in the video, in order to do garbure right, you need to make chabrot at the end. When you near the bottom of the bow, you pour a little red wine into the soup bowl – about equal with the remaining broth. Abandon the spoon, give the dish a gentle swirl or two, and drink this ambrosia in little mouthfuls directly from the soup plate to savor every drop.

The Protectors of Garbure

As is the custom in France, there is a Confrérie de la Garbure – an association, or brotherhood formed to preserve and further its tradition. Every fall local chapters hold colorful festivals complete with friendly garbure cooking competitions, which draw passionate local teams, visiting rivals and enthusiasts from all of France.

These associations have logos, uniforms, and seriously delicous  duties. Here, officials from the Confrérie de la Garbure in their robes, with mini soup pots around their necks, induct two new members into the brotherhood. We may not have the approval of the Confrérie, but we encourage you to experiment with making your own pot of garbure at home. Share pictures with us on social media!

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