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One French word: courge, a French recipe: soupe poireau/courge

Courge, feminine noun (une courge, la courge, des courges) = squash (pumpkin or marrow) (pronounced coorj).

Une courgette (zucchini) is a baby courge.

The family is enormous, of course, here are two photos of the type I used: a courge musquée. It is one of the tastier types of squash, a bit like a potimarron. Not just tasteless pumpkin which needs added flavouring to be in any way interesting. Quite sweet and nutty.

A packet of Courge Musquée seeds from Vilmorin, the French seed specialists

A photo of a courge musquée from

The family of recipes is enormous too, of course. Mine is for a leek and squash soup: soupe poireau/courge. This is a soup which is not mixed, not smooth; the vegetables are left whole.

Soupe poireau/courge

For two people you will need:

  • A very large fat leek, washed and chopped
  • A little olive oil or butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 250gr of chunked steamed courge musquée (or raw, just cook the soup longer)
  • 1 stock cube  and 600ml water (or 600ml home made stock)
  • A thick slice of stale wholemeal bread (2.5cm/1″)
  • 100ml liquid cream
  • Grated cheese

The slice of bread in the soup pot


  1. Sweat the cleaned, chopped leek in a little olive oil or butter, on low heat for 5 minutes
  2. Add the garlic and the stock cubes followed by the water (or home made stock instead of cubes and water)
  3. Cut a thick slice of stale wholemeal bread and add whole to the top of the soup (this will pump up a lot of liquid, so make sure you have enough).
  4. Cook gently  for 20 minutes if you are using steamed courge, or for 30 minutes if you use it raw.
  5. Serve the soup as it is, with the chunks and slices of vegetables, one garlic clove per warmed bowl.
  6. Add a good dash of cream, and share the slice of bread between the two bowls, generously covered with grated cheese.

Grated cheese to top the soup

You can also add the bread at the end, a thinner toasted slice, covered in cheese. But I prefer the rusticity of the big soup-soaked slice.

This is not a tidy dish to eat. Slurps and strings of cheese and so on abound. But it is cheap and healthy fare, and a way of using up the courge that you have left at the end of winter.

Bon appétit!


About OneFrenchWord

I was a professional linguist and have been a life-long foodie. I am now lucky enough to be retired and free to roam the beaches around my home at the tip of the Finistère (Brittany, France). Writing is occupying a larger place in my life, with this blog and a children's book in preparation. I shall feel much happier calling myself a writer when I have published a book. And so posts on OneFrenchWord will be published first as an e-book, my ambition being to see a glossy volume on French language and cuisine in print some day. So keep reading, and snap up the book when it appears!

9 responses »

  1. Made a version of this twice during the recent holidays, a great winter lunchtime meal. One day I had guests who were recovering from the flu, who initially said, ‘just a little’ for me and then after tasting it, asked if they could have some more – defintiely good for recovering.

    Love the look of your wholesome bowl, thank you for sharing.

  2. I am confused. A “courge” is a pumpkin and “courgette” is a zucchini? You are right that pumpkin is rather tasteless. Would the squash (courge musquee) you used here be called a muskmelon? Or is that a melon in English not a squash?

    • Caroline Vidican

      Well a courge can be the marrow that a courgette has over grown into. That’s why I didn’t translate precisely the type of squash that I was using, because names and categories differ so enormously between and even inside countries. Better to put a photo. I have no idea what a muskmelon is! Pumpkin is potiron. But not always…if one calls all this squash, it covers most things, doesn’t it?

      • Just tried to put a photo of a muskmelon, but could not do it. Is there any way to put photos in the reply?

        This is what I got when I tried to copy and paste it.


  3. I love squash, pumpkin, courgette, zucchini… whatever is meant by this recipe, I will be using pumpkin, and perhaps all of the above, and I can’t wait to get home to Australia to make it. It sounds and looks wonderful, thanks Caroline.

  4. I love soup of all kinds. Mostly, I puree it but will try this one just mixed.

  5. I usually purée too. But it’s a different kind of eating experience not to. Must be tried occasionally.


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