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British Cider and Onion Soup

We all know that French onion soup is something that probably can’t be beaten or improved on. So you have the beef stock, the onions, white wine, Gruyere, croutons… doesn’t it make your mouth water just to think about it? However, what you might not know is that the Brits have their own version of French onion soup – an onion soup made with cider instead of white wine and which is white or off-white in colour. In the UK cider is always alcoholic, what the Americans call hard cider. If it’s non-alcoholic they simply say apple juice. British cider is flat or sparkling. Any type is fine for making this recipe.

In addition to the cider we are using butter, leeks, onions, apples, potatoes, stock and herbs. Thyme and bay leaves are used to flavour the soup but they are discarded before serving. We like to add Gruyere cheese, thyme and sometimes a little ground nutmeg for garnish. The Gruyere and thyme are ingredients ‘borrowed’ from the typical French onion soup recipe but they go so well with the onions, so be generous with them here!

This soup would be nice for lunch or dinner, or you could serve half-sized portions as a starter recipe. A lot of the alcohol will be ‘cooked off’ but if you really don’t want to use it then simply sub the hard cider for regular cider or apple juice. The recipe will still taste nice. Served with some crusty white bread, this makes a great meal and there is something so satisfying about the combination of flavours. Try it for yourself and see! Continue reading

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

This rich and creamy soup is perfect for any occasion. Try it as a snack on a chilly afternoon, have a small portion of it before a meat-based dinner or try it on your family so they can appreciate your soup-making abilities! You don’t have to use Stilton here but if you can get some of that amazing English blue cheese it’s totally worth it. Stilton is amazing! If not, then try another kind of blue cheese and the recipe will come out similar. As well as the broccoli and cheese, you are going to need leek, potato, celery, butter, and stock to make this , so you can imagine the end results – a creamy, rich-tasting soup.

After cooking the onions you will be adding the leek, celery and potato along with some butter. Next you add the broccoli and then you can puree the soup in the blender. After this, add the Stilton or whatever blue cheese you decide to use. Don’t worry about lumps where the cheese doesn’t quite dissolve, because those are fine in this soup. This thick, rich soup is great served with crusty white bread to mop up absolutely every drop.

Stilton cheese is English and it comes in 2 varieties – blue and white – although the white is largely unknown (even in England). Stilton is produced in England, in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. Legend has it that Cooper Thornhill, a cheese seller, discovered Stilton in 1730 while visiting a farm close to Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. He loved it right away and began to sell it. The rest is history and this cheese has been popular ever since. In order to be officially known as Stilton, a cheese must have its own coat or crust, not be pressed, have a ‘Stilton’ flavour, have blue veins coming out from the centre, have a fat content of about 35%, and have at least 48% milk fat content in the dry matter. Continue reading

Queen Victoria’s Brown Windsor Soup

Brown Windsor soup is thought to have originated in the Victorian and Edwardian eras although the exact date is unclear. Anybody who happened to be at sea during the 1950s and 1960s on a British Merchant vessel will have enjoyed this soup on board. There were various soups served on the ships, creatively named by whoever happened to be doing the cooking, but Brown Windsor soup would have stood out for its unique flavour. The ingredients in this soup vary but the main ingredients, namely the beef, lamb and meaty stock, make it a rich, hearty dish. If you think soup cannot be filling, try this recipe and you will see that it can.

This tasty English soup makes a warming lunch or you could serve it for dinner with bread rolls on the side. If you want to serve it as a starter recipe, then it will serve 8 instead of 4 people. Follow up with poultry or seafood as your main dish. You will find this soup very simple to prepare since you just have to brown the meat and then stir in the other ingredients. Let it cook slowly on the hob for a couple of hours, then serve hot.

Although it is traditional to stir a tablespoon of Madeira into each portion of soup before serving, this is optional. The Madeira does go well with the beef stock though. French onion soup is often based on beef stock and has Madeira or sherry stirred into it, and the concept is similar here. Make this flavourful soup and enjoy a true taste of English history in every mouthful. Continue reading

Hairst Bree – Hotch Potch Soup

Hairst bree is Gaelic Scottish for ‘harvest broth’ and is also known as hotch potch. It is traditionally made with mutton or lamb neck, although you can use lamb shanks if you prefer. The vegetables in this soup tend to be anything which is in season locally. Hairst bree is a hearty, substantial dish, and it would have been filling and comforting for outdoor workers after a cold day in the highlands. This chunky dish is part soup and part stew, or ‘stoup’ if you like. Lamb is a natural choice in a country where sheep are numerous and often fare better in the harsh climate than cattle, thanks to their warm wool.

We are using swede (rutabaga), carrots, spring onions, beans, peas, cauliflower, and lettuce to make this, although you may substitute any other vegetables depending what is in season and available locally. Consider broccoli instead of the cauliflower, or potatoes instead of the carrots. Fresh mint and parsley also go into the dish, and both of those combine beautifully with the hearty lamb flavour, and suit the dish well.

A lot of Scottish cooks will keep this simmering away for a large part of the day, but you might prefer to cook it until the vegetables are ‘just’ tender rather than until they are only just holding together. Ladle generous servings of this hairst bree into mugs or bowls and serve piping hot. This is a robust soup which is filling enough to pass for an evening meal, rather than a mere appetiser or snack. Consider serving some crusty rustic bread on the side which can be used to sop up every last drop of this flavour-packed soup. Continue reading

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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hi, my name is Christine and I would like to welcome you to TeaTime Recipes. Tea has always been a favourite of mine and I adore the tradition of serving this wonderful beverage with all kinds of little snacks both sweet and savoury. Read More