Home-cooking with Marianne Lumb: Cottage soup

Today is sharing the recipe for one of her favourite dishes Marianne Lumb,  the multiple awarded chef who was in charge of the very famous Notting Hill restaurant ‘Restaurant Marianne’.

“As we look for some sort of comfort in our lives, more than ever, I want to embrace simple and humble ingredients. This recipe is both nourishing and extremely simple. It is adapted from an old Swiss Mountain classic called “Soupe de Chalet” or “Cottage Soup”. It is a very old recipe; you can find many different versions across the Cantons of Switzerland, but this is adapted from my family and it originates in the Pays – D’ Enhaut region of Vaud.

My wonderfully talented cousin Janine Sieber – Saugy always cooks this for me when I stay with her.  It is often found on local restaurant menus and they credit her for the recipe. In the first instance it reminded me of a watered-down dauphinoise crossed with a cheese fondue, with some healthy greens thrown in for a good measure; it is delicious! In a nut-shell, it starts with potatoes that are cooked until they break down. Wild, foraged spinach (verdode) is then added and cooked a little more; then milk, garlic, cheese and cream are warmed through to make a hearty soup. A true one-pan supper.

My English versions is perfect for right now. I have used wild garlic and nettles in place of wild spinach and garlic, as both wild garlic and wild nettles can be found growing wild on our doorsteps. They will be abundant for the next month or so.  If you live in the city and don’t have access, simply use the same amount of baby spinach and 2 fresh crushed garlic cloves or whatever green is at hand, I am sure frozen peas would work fine as well. 

Traditionally, when the farmers eat the soup, they tap their wooden spoon onto the wooden bucket, only once, to thank “God” and “nature”.  May I suggest that we tap our soup bowls too, just once, to thank our medical staff?  Happy cooking! “


4 medium Potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

1 litre water

A handful each of Wild garlic, nettles (tender tips only) and spinach, washed and roughly chopped or as above (baby spinach and 2 cloves crushed garlic)

1 litre of whole milk

200g Grated cheese (any hard cows’ cheese – cheddar, gruyere, comté)

Salt, freshly ground white pepper* and grated nutmeg

100mls double cream, if desired




TO SERVE: – black bread traditionally – but I don’t think it needs anything… 


1)  Place the potatoes in a medium pan, cover with water, season with salt and bring to the boil, simmer until the potatoes start to break down (after about 20 minutes of gently simmering)

2)  Stir in the wild garlic, nettles and spinach, cook for a further 5 minutes.

3)  Then, drain half of the liquid and stir in the milk, cheese and season with the white pepper, salt and nutmeg.  Cook gently (don’t boil) until the cheese has melted, the potatoes should be very soft – almost dissolved.

4)  Check the seasoning, stir in cream if using and serve immediately, don’t forget to tap the bowl 🙂 


*a note on ground white pepper.  I know it is unfashionable, but for me there is no better spice with potatoes & garlic. 

Marianne Lumb

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