From the nineteenth century on, vegetable soup was the typical dish to begin the evening meal in modest and middle-class French homes. Leeks, potatoes, celery, carrots, turnips, and squash made it a dish for winter. Among the peasants it sometimes constituted the entire meal, perhaps embellished with a plain piece of bacon or a sliver of butter, depending on the custom of the region. This contemporary version is lighter and more refined, but what it loses in substance it gains in delicacy of taste and texture.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 celery heart, cut into thin rounds
13 oz potatoes, peeled and cut into1/4 inch cubes or coarsely grated
1 1/2 lb pumpkin flesh, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Heat the oil in a 4 qt nonaluminum pot. Add the celery heart and cook over gentle heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Add the potatoes and cook for 1 minute. Add the pumpkin cubes and 2 cups water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the potatoes disintegrate. Pour the soup into a tureen and serve very hot. Add pepper before eating. This soup is also excellent cold.