WW's Cookery Course

Probably the best cookery book I ever used (apart from Larousse Gastronomique, which is not, strictly speaking a cookery book, and Elizabeth David) was Anne Willan's Observer French Cookery School. Of course, it being rather good, it is out of print. I first collected it, in parts, free with the Observer. The paper then went on strike and I never finished collecting them, though I did have a copy that went, like everything else, to my first wife.

Anyway, the strength of the book was in its explanations. It really did teach you how to make a good stock or what a proper saute was. So, with that in mind, here is Weasel's winter warmer soup, with explanations for those who are new to the basics.

The basis of a soup is the stock. You can use beef, chicken or vegetable. The only bought stock cubes I use are the Kallo organic ones. The rest tend to include too much salt. I am not ashamed to use bought stock if it is good. Making stock though, is fun. My method with beef stock is always the same: After eating boiled beef and carrots, using Brisket, I reduce the liquid considerably from say, two litres to a pint, or even half a pint, adding bouquet garni, which in my case is a combination of bought and fresh herbs, including bay. In the case of this method, the carrot and onion have already added to the flavour. Supermarkets now sell ready made liquid stock, and this is fine if you don't make your own. Check though for salt content.

The obvious candidate for beef stock (which is always described in the recipe books as taking longer than a manned flight to Mars) is Onion Soup. And you don't need to reduce the liquid. The onions are fried, in olive oil and butter (not too much) until they are caramelised. Some people add a spoonful of sugar. Certainly (and carefully) add some salt and pepper. This is a soup that requires thickening in some way. Before you add the hot stock to the onions, you can add a little plain flour, say one level dessert spoon per litre, until it is soaked into the onions. Then you can add the hot stock. This all benefits from the addition of a little sherry. Traditionally, Onion soup is served with crusty baguette that has melted cheese on the top.

During the winter, Red Lentil Soup is a favourite with me and it is simple. First boil the Red Lentils vigourously for at least ten minutes. Use a large pan with a maximum of one third full or your beautiful cooker will be covered in burnt foam. (I rinse the lentils several times in order to minimise this). Then simmer gently for about half an hour.

The lentils will, if cooked slowly, provide enough bulk, and do not need anything to thicken them. For flavour, I make up a classic mirepoix, which is a mix of chopped onions, carrots and celery, slowly sweated in butter.

After the lentils have started to disintegrate, add the mirepoix. I also add a teaspoonful or two of Marigold vegetable stock and a teaspoon of Garam Masala. This last thing is vital to my version, since it transforms a very ordinary soup into something that actually tastes interesting.

If you like animal flesh, you can add bits of shredded cooked hough or bacon, but it is not essential.

Here endeth the lesson. Any soup recipes you have are very welcome indeed.


Jim Baxter said...

Here is my recipe for mulligatawny soup.

$lbs of diced shoulder steak.

4 chillies

Lump o ginger

Garlic cloves in a quantity to equal one medium sized-Frenchman.

Six large spuds.

Curry powder or curry separates, according to taste.

Dice the spuds and boil to a mush. Do not drain. Blend the mush. This is now the basis of your soup.

Brown the steak in butter then simmer. Add chopped ginger, garlic, and chillies and a half powder keg of curry mix. Pour on spud mush. simmer on a low heat for about three hours.

Make rice and parthas and spiced onions (chopped onions in heavly salt, chiili powder, and vinegar jus).

Eat with the steak lumps as curry. Leave most of the curry liquor in the pot, using just a little to garnish the curry.

Eat curry liquor next day as soup.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

It sounds wonderful!

Scotch broth said...

My favourite is still scotch broth with ham.

Boil the ham hough slowly in water for a couple of hours turning occasionally. You may need to add water.

Take out the ham and cut out all the ham pieces ensuring not to eat too many as they are meant for the soup.

Set the ham aside and give the hough bone to a friends dog ( don't like dogs myself)

Soak scotch broth mix in the ham hough stock overnight. ( mix of lentils. peas, barley etc - available from most stores )

Bring mix to the boil in the morning and scoop out the fatty froth at the top.

Simmer gently adding the ham, chopped onions, carrots and any other veg that you like. ( I also add ginger, garlic and chillies but not to everyone's taste)

Over the week you can just add more veg as required.

Serve with chunks of bread or drop oatcakes into the soup bowl.

Ruth@VS said...

I also like broth, but without the ham. My local greengrocer sells ready cut broth veg by the bag, which saves loads of time, but he's struggling to keep up with demand in this weather! I also like pea soup, the proper, dried peas soaked overnight and cooked up. Traditionally again you would add ham, but I don't. Near the end of cooking a bit of bicarbonate of soda makes the peas all smooth and creamy. Yum.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Free recipes! Get them here. I like the ginger garlic and chilli addition to scotch broth, Mr Scotch Broth, though you do sound spookily similar to Jim.

Ruth, I love those peas too, soaked overnight. Today I did the lentil soup (sans flesh) and tongight I shall soak some peas.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

And with the magic curry ingredient -

Lentil soup with mushrooms

2 onions
2 cloves garlic
2 tbs olive oil
2 cups mushrooms
1/2 tps ground coriander
1/2tsp turmeric
1/2 tps ground ginger
1 cup red lentils
4 cups water
1/4 cup creamed coconut

Saute the onions and the garlic in the oil for a few minutes. chop mushrooms and add these for another few minutes. Stir in spices and cook for another minute or two. Then add lentils and water. Bring to the boil, lower hear and cook for 15-20 minutes or until lentils are soft. Grate and add the creamed coconut into the pan and add seasonings as required.

Yobs like me use curry powder instead of the seperate ingredients and it works almost as well.

Anonymous said...

White bean and Black Olive Soup

2 Onions
3 cloves garlic
3tbs olive oil
1 1/2 pts Marigold stock
16oz cooked haricot beans
16 black olives
juice of one small lemon
seasonings (MSG?!!!)

Chop onions, crush garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add stock and beans. Chop olives and add them to the rest. Bring to the boil and simmer a few minutes. Add the lemon juice and season (note the olives make it salty so if you don;t want it too salty then rinse them before adding)