French lifestyle

French detox soup (my French mother-in-law’s recipe)

chopped up vegetables used for French vegetable soup

I learned about French detox soup from my trim, stylish French mother-in-law.  Every Sunday after a big family meal, she would proudly announce, “Tonight and tomorrow, I’m having soup and a yogurt for dinner!”  Sunday lunches were traditional – excellent meat or fish, well-chosen wines, a fresh local cheese selection, delicious desert (on a good Sunday it was the local tarte de citron we all cherished) and chocolates with coffee.  A weekly or monthly indulgence and opportunity to reconnect with extended family. 

The French are suspicious of absolutes: skip the bread basket, but don’t even try to explain to a waiter that you are on a no-carb diet.  We only pass this way once, the French believe.  Why eliminate great food? Aside from the pleasure principle, moderation is the mantra of choice in France.

French nutrition expert Maia Baudelaire agrees.  “When women come to us to lose a few kilos, we help them with a plan that includes a little bit of everything:  high-quality dairy and meats, eggs, freshly made breads, lots of fresh in-season vegetables and fruit, the occasional glass of wine and at least one or two desserts per week.  Nothing should ever be totally off limits if you enjoy it, even when you are trying to lose a bit of weight,” she says.

Click here to read about France’s 5 most important healthy eating habits!

According to the French, deprivation is completely unnecessary.  The pleasure principle rules in this country, but so does knowing when to say yes and when to say no!  For example:

Love chocolate or rich deserts? 

Treat yourself to the good stuff, but only every once in a while, and keep the quantity small.  Tip: Nothing in the supermarket bread aisle qualifies as exceptional.

Enjoy a glass of wine? 

Have a small glass, bearing in mind that fishbowl glasses are American, not French.  Focus on the experience:  pick an amazing wine to begin with.  Have a glass, you don’t need to down the whole bottle.

Love bread, pasta, other carbs? 

Choose freshly made if possible.  And if it towers like a mountain, consider ordering a half-portion.  Accessorize pasta with extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs, and enjoy!

And if you do find yourself over indulging on a weekend or holiday, this is Carmen’s go-to French detox soup.  A big bowl for lunch or dinner, two days in a row and lots and lots of water and herbal tea.  That usually balances out any indulgences!  If you need some protein, accompany it with chicken breast.  Add a plain yogurt for dessert and your jeans will feel looser in no time!  As an added bonus, your skin will look great!

French Detox Soup


2 onions

3 leeks

2 carrots

1 potato (you can also substitute with 1 courgette)

Few sprigs of parsley

2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil

Chicken stock


Chop up the onions, leeks, carrots and potatoes.

Heat the olive oil in a pot large enough to make the soup, add the onions and let them cook until they get soft.

Add the leeks and carrots to the onions and let them cook slightly.

Finally add the potatoes, and let all the vegetables cook together for a few minutes.

Add the parsley.

Cover all the vegetables with water and a cube of chicken stock (or the real thing if you have it handy) and let them cook on the stovetop on medium heat for approximately 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Let the soup cool slightly and then puree it with a handheld mixer or a food processor.

Tip: This soup is an excellent main dish or side dish for fall and winter evenings. Try pairing with a piece of dark bread and slice of hard cheese.

Tip: If you have different vegetables on hand, try different variations. Other great veggie choices are red peppers, courgette, cauliflower, pumpkin or squash. Get creative!

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