Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Sip...not slurp

Mama and her Mother
Mama was 18 when she was sent to "Finishing School" in Switzerland. Off she went with one suitcase, by boat and then by a very long train journey to live in a strange country for one year to learn poise and elegance where young women were given a more "complete" education.

Can you imagine a time when young women were sent to learn a variety of social and etiquette skills all for the hopes of attracting and keeping a husband?  Such activities I would most probably find trivial and annoying these days. But to be absolutely honest, it does sound so very quaint and ladylike does it not?

On the days when I was asked to polish the silver, Mama would teach me the difference between a fish knife and a salad fork or which glasses you must use for red wine or which one to serve an aperitif from.  She spent ages trying to teach me to fold a starched napkin into a lotus flower, something I still can not master or see the point of... 

I learnt to use the side plate to your left and to use the butter knife to cut your bread into dainty bite size pieces. I learnt how to sip soup from the side of the spoon and not to slurp or to put the whole spoon in your gob! She was ever to patient with me and I often reminisce of the grace of meals served at a beautifully set table. 

My drawers (not the knicker ones) are full of mismatched cutlery of stainless steel.  My family eats dinner from laps most evenings and I don't think I own a fish knife of any sort. Although I do know which wine glass to use for red or white wine...I normally grab the one that has the most capacity.

So in honour of sipping... and not slurping - here is Mama's roasted vegetable soup with home-made croutons.

What you need:
  • one cup of each vegetable cut into chunks (choose as you like)
    • carrots
    • potato
    • parsnips
    • butternut
    • onion
  • A little oil
  • 1 litre chicken stock - or stock of your choosing
  • 500 mls cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Stale bread - sourdough works great
  • Knob of butter
  • Parmesan cheese - grated
  • Handful fresh chopped parsley
How to make:
  • In a large roasting dish - rub some oil and a good bit of S&P over the veggies
  • Roast in a hot oven (200 degrees) for 30 minutes or until the veggies are golden and crisp on the edges.  Allow to cool a bit - but don't turn off your oven.
  • Blitz the roasted veggies in a processor until smooth - add a bit of your stock to loosen up.
  • Pour into a large pot and add in your remaining stock and allow to simmer slowly on the stove top whilst you prepare your croutons.
  • In the same roasting dish you used for the veggies, break chunks of bread into bite size pieces.
  • Sprinkle over a little oil and dot butter all over the pan.  Sprinkle with some S&P and the Parmesan cheese.  Bake in still hot oven till golden and crispy - toss occasionally.
  • Whilst the croutons are crisping, pour the cream into your vegetable/stock mix - check your seasoning and heat through.
  • Pour into pre-heated soup bowls and arrange the crispy croutons on the top.
  • Sprinkle with fresh parsley and YUM!

1 comment:

  1. I was always taught to tip the soup bowl away from me when nearing the end of the soup! Wonderful post as always!