10 August 2008

In the soup

I'm obsessed with soup this winter. Not a week has gone by without me making a vat of it.

Last year, it was all about Karen Martini's chicken and vegetable brodo, which is one of those clever recipes that take a very cheap cut of meat (in this case, chicken wings), and turns it it to something wonderful. The soup is full of good things, including fennel. I got the recipe out of a Sunday newspaper magazine a couple of years ago, and it's since been published in her latest cookbook, Cooking at Home.

This year, it's Scotch broth that has me in its trance. It uses another cheap cut of of meat - stewing lamb - to get a great result. There are plenty of recipes for this very traditional soup around, but my favourite one is from Ross Dobson's Kitchen Seasons. Although, I've adapted his recipe to use the more traditional pearl barley rather than the brown rice he suggests (I love the texture of pearl barley, which to me is purely a winter food).

This is a good cookbook, but very much one for winter. I bought it last summer, but didn't find the warmer weather dishes particularly inspiring.

In the interests of expanding my soupy skills, I've made cream of mushroom today, using Jamie Oliver's recipe. This one is very nice indeed, and very easy, which is just what I want went I'm cooking on a cold, wet Sunday morning. And two out of three children sampled it today (sans the cream being added) and declared it yummy, although I suspect that once they sit down to a bowl of it, they will decide that they don't like it.

Which brings me to my big problem with soup. It's one of those foodstuffs that small people decide that they don't like. Fullstop. The Little Guy refuses to eat it at all. This is a problem in a household in which the cook wants to make weekly vats of the stuff. I've taken to making very thick minstrone and putting it on rice, calling it vegetable medley, to trick him into eating it. This tactic actually does work sometimes (and when it does, he loves it). It won't work at all with this week's mushroom number, of course.

It's the universe paying me back for my own sins against soup: I spent a decade of my childhood refusing to eat anything which even resembled the evil soup foodgroup, much to my mother's chagrin. Perhaps one day my youngest son will be blessed with a child who will also declare soup the food of the devil.

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