#185 Vegetable Soup

In case you didn’t know, ‘Thrifty’ is my middle name. Well ‘Skint’ is, at any rate and I’m ploughing through the cheaper of the recipes. This is not necessarily a difficult, but they also have to be healthy too as I’ve developed a bit of a man gut and my moobs are beginning to bud. This is not good.

Obviously the soups are a good target and this vegetable soup seems perfect. I have my own recipe for vegetable soup that I’ve put on the blog before and I think it’s pretty good, she has some interesting additions such as dill and allspice berries. Let’s see if Griggers does a better one…

An important point that Griggers makes is that you don’ have to stick to any particular strict rules with this kind of soup – any vegetables will do I think. Also, this recipe for vegetable soup is not vegetarian, but it could easily be adapted by omitting the meat and using vegetable stock.

Begin by simmering a pound of sliced cabbage in 2 ½ pints of water or light stock along with 12 lightly crushed peppercorns, 6 crushed allspice berries and ½ pound of salt pork, smoked bacon joint or ham hock for 30 minutes. I would use just water if your using a hock with bone, stock otherwise. Now add 2 coarsely chopped carrots, 4 potatoes that have been peeled and cubed, 2 sliced leeks (or one leek and one onion) and a few lovage leaves (these are optional). Simmer for a further 30 minutes. Remove the meat and use it for another meal, or, as I did, chop it up and return it to the soup at the end. The soup needs to be blended now – don’t go mad with it, either pulse and partially liquidise it, or use a mouli-legumes. Found that one of those hand blenders is the best thing for this job. Finally, add one to two tablespoons of grated Parmesan, some dill (optional), cream (also optional) and season with salt, pepper and sugar. Griggers suggests eating the soup with fingers of cheese on toast or cheese and oat biscuits. I went with the latter (cheap and easy to make!).

#185 Vegetable Soup. I can’t believe I’ve not made this recipe yet! Well I have to say it beats my vegetable soup hands down. The soup is very hearty and the addition of the salty piquant cheese and the lemon-fresh dillweed really transform it into a pretty macho vegetable soup. 8/10.

#182 Apple Soup

I wanted to hit the ground running with the Griggers project this September after being away in Turin (work, not play) for the latter part of August, but alas, I have been hindered. There are two main problems here: I am skint and I have become a right old fat knacker all of a sudden. These factors combined can be a hindrance with the recipes in English Food. However, Charmolian and I are being rather more mindful of budgets by planning stuff out properly and sharing cooking duties. To begin with, I tried this soup – cheap and easy, but an unusual one. It is apparently, a very old recipe going right back to the fifteenth century. It is very cheap to make and therefore I assume it was a peasant dish: (windfall) apples and beef broth, basically.

So thrifty folks, here’s how to make your own taste of Medieval England:

Start off by simmering some pearl barley and/or rice in some beef stock until cooked. Next bring 2 ½ pints of beef stock in a saucepan. Meanwhile, roughly chop roughly around 12 ounces of either cooking apples or Cox’s apples ; no need to peel or core. Add the apples to the beef stock and simmer until soft. Strain and push the apples through the sieve, and then add half a teaspoon of ground ginger and a quarter teaspoon of ground black pepper before stirring in the rice or barley. Serve very hot.


#182 Apple Soup. A strange one, this one. It’s not the most exciting – it is what it is, apples and beef, and I’m hardly about to do cartwheels over it, but I did grow to enjoy it after a few spoonfuls. The texture was quite appealing, the high pectin content of the apples makes it slightly viscous and gloopy, and combined with the thickening barley and rice made it seem more substantial than it was, which is good as it’s almost totally calorie-free. Would I make it again? Only when I’m very poor. It’s interesting to eat some food that has some history though. 5/10.

#165 Indian Soup

A soup “with a lively freshness and a spicy flavour” says Jane, just the ticket for a summer soup, it is also a thrifty soup as it requires left-over boiled rice and left over chicken bones and meat, of which I had both from the chicken curry I had made the previous night. It is basically an Indian-style version of chicken noodle soup and is, of course, about as Indian as Prince Phillip, but this is the 1970s so we shall allow it. Anyway, who cares as long as it tastes nice; and I had high hopes for it after the disappointing mulligatawny soup I had cooked previously.

To start, bring 3 pints of beef stock, 2 large sliced onions, a large Bramley apple, a tablespoon of desiccated coconut, 2 teaspoons of curry powder and the bones from a chicken or game carcass (minus meat scraps) to the boil and simmer for an hour. There is no need to peel or core the apple, because the stock is then strained through muslin into another pan. The resulting cloudy stock now needs to be made clear – this is a two-stage process. First, use kitchen paper to blot off any fat that may have risen to the top; secondly, put over a moderate heat and whisk in two egg whites. Keep whisking for a few minutes and then leave to simmer for five more without stirring. The idea here is that as the egg whites cook they mop up any solids that make the soup cloudy. When ready, strain again; the result should be a lovely golden-brown and clear broth. Season it well with salt and both black and Cayenne peppers, plus a squeeze of lemon juice. Finally, add a few tablespoons of boiled basmati rice and the shredded scraps of meat.


#165 Indian Soup. Well, Griggers was right – it is a delicious soup, clear, spicy and fruity with a lovely tart finish supplied by the lemon and Bramley apple. It would make a perfect starter to a meal – not too filling and interesting in its flavours. However, it is a bit of a faff – it’s not something that can be thrown together and liquidised at the end of cooking, and although tasty, I’m not sure if it’s worth the effort (making a clear consommé is a tricky business). After weighting up the pros and cons, I’ll give it 6.5/10.

FYI: a simpler way to clarify a stock is to freeze it and to let it strain through muslin slowly overnight in the fridge. Obviously you need to remember to make the stock a couple of days before you want to use it, but it’s very easy indeed! It also gives a more clear stock too in my experience.

#151 To Cook Salt Pork or Hams: Part 1 – To Eat Hot

After a 5 day wait, the pork I had put in the brine tub was ready for cooking. Jane outlines three different ways to cook your salt pork or ham if you want to serve it hot, but they all start with the same process: simmering in water with stock vegetables.

The first thing to do is to rinse your joint and weight it on some scales. Place the joint in a heavy casserole or stockpot, cover it with cool water and let it come to a boil slowly. Let it simmer for 5 minutes and taste the water – if it’s too salty throw the water away and start again (though it was fine when I tasted mine). For hams up to 4 pounds (2 kilos), cook for 30 minutes to the pound (1 hour to the kilo) plus an extra 30 minutes. However, this can be reduced if the joint is slim. To improve the flavour of the ham, add some stock vegetables: carrot, onion, leek, turnip, that kind of thing. They also flavour the stock with which delicious soups can be made – like this one.

It now depends on how you want to serve your ham:
1. Simply boiled – easy-peasy! Serve it with whatever vegetables or salad you like.

2. Encased in pastry – yes, you heard correctly! Remove before the final hour; encase it in thick pastry, glaze with egg and bake in a moderate-hot oven for an hour.

3. Glaze it. This the one I went for. Remove the ham half an hour before the end of cooking and remove the skin. Criss-cross the fat with a sharp knife and stud the crosses with cloves. Then make a glaze:

Sorry about the shit picture – I’m sure I took a better one than this!

Mix together a tablespoon of French mustard, one of double cream and one of either brown sugar, marmalade or apricot jam (or anything else sweet you like), next mix in a teaspoon of ground cinnamon or cloves. Spread this mixture all over the fat. Place in a roasting tin, add a ladleful of the stock to the bottom to stop any glaze from catching if it falls, and bake for 30 minutes at 190°C. When done, remove and let it rest before carving.

To accompany it, make a sauce with the pan juices by boiling them up with some cream, white wine or fortified wine, depending on the glaze you used. I went for cream as I used dark brown sugar.

Serve with seasonal vegetables and glazed onions, Grigson says. However, she also says that glazed turnips go well too. So I made those, plus boiled potatoes and peas.

#151 – To Cook Salt Pork and Hams: Part 1 – To Eat Hot: 7/10. I really enjoyed this – the ham cure was beautifully seasoned and salty and the spiced sticky sugar glaze complimented it perfectly. It was a little dry though, but I have a feeling that I cooked a little too long in the stock though as it was a slim piece of meat. That said, it was still delicious and we all polished it off quick-smart. I think that with a bit of practise at this kind of thing, the scores will quickly creep up to the high 8s, 9s or 10s!

Everything you wanted to know about bouquet garnis but were afraid to ask…

Ok, you weren’t afraid to ask…

Not really had time to add extra entries other than the stuff I’m cooking from the Tome. However, I did come across this information in the very excellent book A Celebration of Soup by Lindsey Bareham on the subject of bouquet garnis – I usually guess as to what should go in mine, and try and match it to the ingredients of the soup/stew etc, but Lindsey gives an ultimate list here, which I’m reproducing – I’m using it as a benchmark from now on and thought you might like to know too… So whenever I mention that I’ve used a bouquet garni, unless Griggers is very specific as to what should go in it, it’ll be one of these and I’ll link back to this post. Hope it’s useful!

Poultry – stick of celery cut in half, parsley stalks, a couple of sprays of tarragon, a bayleaf, a sprig of thyme and leek trimmings.

Game – A sprig of rosemary, ½ an onion, 3 inches of pared orange peel and a sprig of thyme.

Fish – A couple of fennel stalks or leaves, a sprig each of chervil and tarragon and leek trimmings.

Meat – One clove of unpeeled garlic, parsley stalks, a bayleaf, ½ an onion studded with a few cloves and a sprig of time. (I’m also adding a spring of sage with pork and rosemary with lamb).

Pheasant and Celery Broth

There was no way I was throwing out the carcasses of the roast pheasants, so I did my research and came up with this soup which used up all the celery trimmings and unused potatoes from the game chips too. I also found pigeon carcasses in the freezer, so I added them in. The idea here is that you can use any poultry or game bird carcasses as long as you’ve got enough of them. The point is to use whatever left over vegetables you’ve got, so I’ve not given amounts – I even chucked in the leftover cooked peas and beans that hadn’t been eaten right at the end.

You will need…
Carcasses of 2 pheasant, cut up (or 1 chicken, turkey or several smaller game birds, etc, etc)
4 pints of water
Bouquet garni
5 peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
Stock vegetables/trimmings – i.e. celery, onion, leek etc. all roughly chopped
1 pint of light beef stock
4 ounces of pearl barley
Sliced/cubed broth vegetables – potatoes, carrots, etc
4 or 5 sticks of celery, sliced or cubed

What to do…
Place the carcasses into a large saucepan or stockpot with the water, the bouquet garni, the peppercorns, salt and the stock vegetables. Bring to the boil, cover tightly and simmer for 2 to 2 ½ hours. Strain the stock and return it to the pan and add the barley, beef stock, celery and the other stock vegetables and simmer for a further hour. Whilst you are waiting, pick any meat from the carcasses and put them in with broth at the end. Check the seasoning. Serve with buttered brown bread.

#107 Chestnut and Apple Soup

I’m a chestnut fan, but I’ve not ever cooked with them, except for roasting. In fact I’ve only ever eaten them roasted or in a pork stuffing. I spotted some in the greengrocers and thought I’d have a go at this soup. The soups in English Food have been great (with the exception of the Mulligatawny Soup); and what I really like about them all so far is the simplicity – absolutely no faffing about. This one is no different. Give it a go if you see some chestnuts.

This makes enough for 6:

This soup requires a pound of chestnuts, and the first job is to pierce either end of each and every one with a sharp knife. Plunge them into boiling water for 10 minutes. Use a tea towel to grasp onto them with one hand and a sharp knife to remove their softened shells with the other and discard any bad ones; don’t worry if they are not whole. Keep them in the hot water as you peel them to keep the shells soft. Simmer the chestnuts along with one stick of celery in 3 ½ pints of light beef stock for 20 minutes. In the mean time, peel, core and slice two Cox’s Pippin apples. Simmer the apples in 2 ounces of butter until they soften, seasoning well with black pepper. Add the apple and juices to the stock and liquidise the whole thing until smooth. Return it to the pan, check for seasoning, and stir through 4 fluid ounces of single cream. Don’t let the soup boil if you are retuning it to the heat. Serve the soup with croutons fried in butter.


FYI: if you are lucky enough to know where there is a sweet chestnut tree, you can make shampoo from cooking up the leaves and peel.

#107 Chestnut and Apple Soup – 6.5/10. A very nice creamy-pale soup. Rich, yet light at the same time. I would certainly recommend this one; it would make a very good first course. Two apples didn’t really make it taste that much of apples, so it loses some marks for that – I would do three.

#106 Mulligatawny Soup

Whilst perusing the little fishmongers in Stockport, me and Charlotte spotted boiling chickens for sale. This is quite weird as I always keep my eye out for them and never see them, but the day before Charlotte requested Mulligatawny soup, but I said that we couldn’t do that, as we need a boiling fowl for it. Perhaps Charlotte is a lucky charm for the English Food project and me. Like some sort of leprechaun or troll.* I’m glad I now have a supply of boiling fowls as quite a few recipes require them. Good oh.

FYI: the word Mulligatawny comes from the Tamil, an Indian language, and means pepper water, and it came here in the Eighteenth Century.

This makes a big old load of soup, enough for 5 or 6 people:

Begin by chopping the boiling chicken into pieces and brown it in 2 ounces of butter, along with a sliced onion. Now add 1 ½ tablespoons of curry powder – either mild, medium or hot (I went for medium, but added a pinch of chilli powder) – and 8 ounces of yoghurt, plus some salt. Fry all this until the yoghurt reduces and becomes a thick crust on the bottom the pan. Be careful not to let it burn though. Add 3 pints of water and let it all come to a simmer. Cook for around an hour and a half until the meat is falling off the bone. Pick the meat off the carcass and chop it up, if need be, retuning it to the pan and chucking out the bones. This is a good point to leave the soup overnight, so any chicken fat can be skimmed off easily. Melt another of butter in a separate small saucepan and add 4 cloves; apparently, the cloves soften after a few minutes if cooked gently and can be crushed with a spoon. This didn’t happen for me. Hey-ho. Add the juice of lemon and pour the butter mixture into the soup. Season with more salt if appropriate. Serve with some boiled rice and some chopped apple sprinkled on top.


#106 Mulligatawny Soup – 4.5/10. Not a bad soup, but decidedly average. When I first tried I thought it was surprisingly light and refreshing, but then as I tried it again, I decided I wasn’t sure. It sat in the fridge for a bit and I realised I wasn’t going to eat it, so it went off the bin. I think I was disappointed because it wasn’t what I expected. I’ve had Mulligatawny from a tin and was sure it contained some kind of red meat. Flicking through the book, I spotted another soup called Indian Soup, which looks a lot like what I thought Mulligatawny was.

*Joke

#103 Mutton and Leek Broth

After the success of the Welsh Cawl last month and since it’s been fookin’ freezing of late I thought I’d try something similar – Mutton and Leek Broth. All very much in the same vein. I’ve never cooked mutton before and only eaten once or twice. Plus Grigson says it is “magnificent”. The recipe calls for scrag end of neck, which I managed to get hold of from Frost’s in Chorlton (what would I do without them?); as it’s a cheap cut this soup is really good for those on a budget: 1 ½ pounds for four quid. If you can’t get mutton, you can use lamb. Ask your butcher to chop it up for you as it’s a bit of a hack-saw job.

FYI 1: the neck of a lamb/sheep/veal calf is split into three sections: scrag end nearest the head, which is mainly bone. This is a good thing for broths as it imparts flavour to make a delicious stock. Apparently scrag end is an old fashioned term, and we say ‘round end of neck, presumably because scrag end doesn’t sound too appetising. There’s mid-neck or middle neck and best end of neck too – I’m sure I will get to them in some other recipe.

FYI 2: mutton applies to sheep that have more than two permanent incisors in wear, usually over ayear old.


For 6-8:

Like many soups and stews that involve cooking joints and bones up, it’s best to cook it the day before, also the pearl barley requires soaking time so keep this all in mind.

Start by rinsing and soaking 4 ounces of pearl barley in water for four hours. Do some light housework in the meantime, or maybe just watch a film in between. Drain the barley and put it in a large saucepan or stockpot. Trim off any excess fat from the meat (keep any big chunks and freeze them and use for Singin’ Hinnies, which I’ll be cooking very soon) and add the chunks to the pot along with 4 pints of water. Bring it to the boil and simmer it gently for an hour before adding the vegetables: 5 ounces of diced carrot, 4 of diced turnip, a stalk of chopped celery, a chopped leek and 5 ounces of chopped onion. Season with salt and pepper at this point too. Let the broth simmer for at least another hour until the meat is falling off the bones. Cut the meat up and return it to the pot and discard the bones. Skim any fat from the soup – this is the point to leave it over night; solidified fat is much easier to remove. Bring back to the boil and correct the seasoning with salt, pepper, sugar and cayenne pepper. Be quite liberal with the sugar and salt. Slice a second leek thinly and add to the broth along with some chopped parsley and turn off the heat; the residual heat will cook the leek. Serve with granary bread and butter.

#103 Mutton and Leek Broth – 6.5/10. A nice soup that needed a lot of seasoning to make it delicious. I really liked the mild mutton flavour and the pearl barley, but expected it to be much more flavourful. That said, because the batch I made was so big I was still eating it three days later and it did get better as time went by.

#98 Cawl

Butters and I went for a nice walk around Chorlton Water Park and the Mersey Valley. We lucky in that it wasn’t totally pissing it down with rain, as the weather has not been good of late. It was still pretty chilly though so I wanted to make something simple, nourishing and warming for when we got back. I plumped for the Welsh soup, Cawl (pronounced “cowl”, according to Griggers). Cawl is simply Welsh for soup, but it’s far from a light soup-starter; it’s a meal in one. I assume it’s a peasant dish; it is simple in its ingredients and methods, is cheap, and requires time to make it well. It’s basically the Welsh equivalent of Irish stew or Cock-a-leekie. What I like about this one is that the meat is cooked as a joint and sliced at the end and served with the vegetables and soup. To be really Welsh, marigold flowers can be added as a garnish, but I thought that was going a bit too far…

These measures make loads of Cawl – enough for 6 to 8 people.

Start off by browning your meat in some beef dripping; you need pounds altogether, either beef brisket of shin of beef, but best is to use one pound of beef and a pound of smoked hock, gammon or bacon. I went for brisket and a giant piece of smoked bacon. When browned, put in a large saucepan or stockpot. Next, brown 2 sliced onions and 3 carrots, parsnip, turnips or some swede cut into chunks; a mixture is best. Once they are browned, add them to the meat and cover with cold water, add salt and two stalks of chopped celery. Bring to the boil slowly, skimming off any scum that may rise to the surface. Add a bouquet garni (I used parsley, thyme and bay), sea salt and pepper to season, turn to a very low heat and simmer for at least three hours. I actually did all this the day before, so that we didn’t have to wait very long to eat when we got back.


About half an hour before you want to eat, add a pound of small potatoes (or larger ones cut up), and ten minutes before add a small white or green cabbage that has been sliced. When the potatoes are cooked the soup is ready. Finely slice 2 or 3 leeks and sprinkle them on top of the soup; the heat of the soup will cook them. Remove the joints and slice them up, putting some of each kind in each bowl, along with some of the veg and stock.

#98 Cawl – 7/10. A delicious, warming and beautifully clear soup. The meat was falling apart and the smoked bacon gave the whole thing a really delicious flavour. Definitely one of the best soups so far. This will become a staple winter dish, I think.