Spring vegetables in a Court-Bouillon

Photo by Rebecca Wellman

A wonderful melange of fresh spring vegetables prepared simply – in the French style.

Court-Bouillon (pronounced koor bwee-YAWN)

1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, bruised

juice of 1⁄2  lemon  (reserve other half)

1⁄4 cup olive oil

1⁄2 tsp whole coriander seeds, toasted until aromatic

1 1⁄2 cups dry white wine

3/4 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

bouquet garni: 1 sprig of thyme, 3 or 4 parsley stems, 1 bay leaf and  6 whole peppercorns wrapped in cheesecloth or bundled together with a couple of leek leaves and tied with kitchen string


Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered,  for 20 minutes.  Discard the bouquet garni.



6 baby carrots, peeled and left whole

1⁄2 cup mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered

1⁄2 cup small shallots, peeled and quartered

1⁄2 cup fresh peas

2 very ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and quartered

1 bunch asparagus (prep instructions below)



freshly chopped parsley

a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil


Gently simmer the carrots, mushrooms, shallots and peas, one variety at a time, in the court-bouillon until just tender.  (Don’t be tempted to throw them all in at once; carrots need lots of time; peas do not.)   Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and set aside before adding the next batch of vegetables.

Cut or snap the woody ends off the asparagus and peel the remaining stalk with a vegetable peeler.  (It’s worth the trouble, the asparagus cooks more evenly and it eliminates those tough, chewy strands.)   To retain its vibrant colour, blanch the peeled stalks in rapidly boiling, generously salted, water for two to three minutes until lightly cooked.  Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water.   The asparagus may be left whole or cut into pieces.  The asparagus will be briefly reheated in the court-bouillon, just before serving.  (Be careful; prolonged reheating will diminish the colour.)

When all the vegetables have been cooked, return them to the court-bouillon, along with the fresh tomatoes, and reheat.  Check the seasoning; add more lemon and salt, if desired.

Place the vegetables in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil.   Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

Don’t toss out the asparagus trim!

To make a delicious asparagus cream sauce, slice the woody stalks and place them, along with the peelings, in a small saucepan with enough cream to cover.   Simmer the mixture, uncovered, until the trim is softened and the cream turns a lovely pale green.  Using a food processor or an emulsion blender, puree the mixture until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and reheat the cream in a clean saucepan.  Adjust the seasoning with a few drops of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt.  If the mixture needs thinning, add a bit more cream and/or a bit of chicken stock.  The consistency of the sauce should lightly coat the back of a spoon.

Submitted by – Denise Marchessault, Proprietor / Culinary Instructor, French Mint


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