Confession Wednesday- Meat or No Meat?

I don’t get the non-meat-eating thing. I come from the school of thought best illustrated in the statement, you don’t eat meat? I will make you some lamb! Among the cultural changes I experienced when I moved from Romania was my encounter with vegetarianism and its more extreme faction, the vegans. I swear I did not meet a non-meat-eating human for the first twenty one years of my life.

Part of my attitude on non-meat eating is based on that. And part of my attitude is based on my view on food in general. It is all about taste- not about being healthier or professing some sort of ethical commitment to animal rights or living out some spiritual concern. For me, it is about achieving the most flavorsome bite. Eating is about texture, aroma and even sizzle, the hiss of a nice slab of bacon dissolving into a tantalizing mixture of glossy oil and releasing tormenting aromas.

I feel some sort of solidarity with places that won’t betray their ultimate goal- taste. Such a place is Beast in Portland, a restaurant that professes a love for meat and due to a variety of pretexts, including a fixed menu, small kitchen, and a rather small staff, it posts a strict no substitution policy that informs pescatarians, vegetarians, and vegans that they will have a hard time enjoying the six course meal at Beast. As a side note, Beast is an outstanding eatery whose chef and owner Naomi Pomeroy was a finalist for the James Beard Award, best chef for the Northwest this year.

Among the less obnoxious rant on vegetarians and vegans in Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain says, to me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is not a life worth living. And I could not agree more!

That said, it should be no surprise that my spring garden soup, inspired by Robuchon’s recipe in Simply French begins with …bacon!

Spring Garden Soup, inspired by Joël Robuchon, Simply French

Ingredients: 2 oz slab bacon; 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped finely; 3 oz green cabbage cut into thin strips; 1 cup French green beans cut into 1 inch pieces; 2 small boiling potatoes, peeled and diced small; 1 celery rib, cut into thirds lengthwise then sliced into thin triangular pieces; 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut the same as the celery; 3 tbs unsalted butter; kosher salt; flat leaf Italian parsley.

Photo by Jennifer Olson

Keep the potatoes separate in a bowl covered with water to prevent browning.

One note- the uniform shape and size of your ingredients in this soup makes a great difference in its texture and the complexity of its flavor in each spoon.

Set a large stockpot over medium-low heat and when hot add the bacon. Allow the bacon to release some of its fat for about 4-5 minutes. Adjust the heat if the bacon begins to crisp. You just want it soften and release some of its flavorful fat.

Photo by Jennifer Olson

To the bacon, add the butter and allow it to melt. Add the leeks, celery, and carrots and cook stirring constantly until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt.

Photo by Jennifer Olson

Pour in about 5-6 cups of water, enough to cover the vegetables comfortably and bring to a boil. Add the cabbage and cover, simmering gently for about 40 minutes.

The green beans get cooked separately. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it and add the beans cooking for about 4-5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain the beans and plunge them into very cold, preferably ice water to cool them down rapidly. Drain again and set the beans aside.

Photo by Jennifer Olson

After 40 minutes the rest of the vegetables should be cooked yet still somewhat crisp. Add the potatoes and cover increasing the heat. Continue cooking for about 20 minutes then add the green beans. Reduce the heat and simmer all the vegetables together for 5 more minutes. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls and sprinkle with fresh parsley leaves. Serve immediately.

Photo by Jennifer Olson

My thanks to Jen for the beautiful pictures!

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  • Lori Lynn

    The recipe sounds awesome! I understand what you write about meat-eating, unfortunately for me I had to cut way back on meat, eggs and cheese due to high cholesterol, or I would have had to go on medication. So I feel very fortunate that I am able to control the cholesterol by cutting back, and when I do eat meat, I appreciate it all the more. Great post!

  • Monet

    My husband and I don't eat meat…but I understand your opinions…we try not to be picky about it, and we do eat some meat on occasion. I love this recipe though…it looks scrumptious!

  • Andra

    Lori – cutting down on meat is something more people should do. I know I am at times guilty of overdoing it :-)

    Monet- The recipe is delicious and I am sure it would still be delicious without the bacon. Thanks for visiting!

  • Anonymous


    I must agree with the non-meat eating thing, although not just for taste. I think it's ultimately healthier and more natural (although maybe not necessarily the way a lot of meat is manufactured).