Brian Stormont looks at our love of soup and discovers how one farm shop invents its own recipes which you can buy in a bag ready to prepare at home.
A guid bowl of soup is synonymous with Scotland. It’s something we absolutely excel in and our soups, such as Scotch broth and cock-a-leekie, are revered the world over.
But our love of the humble bowl of soup has moved on in recent times, as Scots have embraced dishes from different cuisines.
Nowadays, many of us are quite at home enjoying some Spanish gazpacho, Chinese chicken and sweetcorn or Thai tom yum.
It seems, however, the Scots have always been held in high regard when it comes to soup.
In her book The Scots Kitchen, published in 1929, F. Marian McNeill quotes from the Annals of the Cleikum Club’s Dr Redgill who said: “Sir, I am above all national prejudices and I must say I yield the Scots superiority in all soups, save turtle and mulligatawny.
“An antiquarian friend of mine attributes this to their early and long connection with the French a nation eminent in soups.”
However, it seems not everyone was impressed.
In Boswell: Journal of a tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson (1786), it states: “[In Aberdeen] At dinner Dr Johnson ate several plates of Scotch broth with barley and peas in it and seemed very fond of the dish. I said: ‘You never ate it before?’ – Johnson: ‘No sir but I don’t care how soon I eat it again’.”
I must say I yield the Scots superiority in all soups, save turtle and mulligatawny
However, that said, it’s not only broths that people are enjoying these days, with amazing soups being created from the great produce we have available here – and combining it with amazing ingredients from other countries, too, which results in mouth-watering combinations.
As well as selling amazing local produce, many delicatessens and farm shops nowadays are selling soup bags.
The ethos behind these is simple.
All the ingredients you need are in your bag along with simple instructions on how you make the soup – all you have to do is the chopping and bung the ingredients in a pot.
Local to me, the Carnoustie Farm Shop, based at Clayholes Farm, offers a huge range of soup bags – all made by Anna Hancbach who has been running the enterprise for seven years.
Now, while I do make my own soup, I like nothing better than to let someone else – almost – do it for me by picking up a soup bag.
In common with farm shops up and down the country, the Carnoustie shop has an amazing range, with everything from carrot and coriander to parsnip, leek and apple, and Caribbean sweet potato and coconut to butternut squash and carrot, smoked paprika, chickpea and lentil, and Jamaican red bean.
As I enjoy spicy foods, my favourites to pick up are Scotch bonnet and tomato, and jalapeno and cheddar. However, I have also really enjoyed the sweet potato and red pepper.
Every soup in the shop has been created by Anna herself who picks up inspiration from her travels and by testing how different ingredients combine with each other.
Anna, 38, who originally hails from Poland but has been in Scotland for 15 years, began building up her repertoire of tasty bowls of goodness through necessity.
“I learned how to make soup when I was in university as I was eating unhealthy food and I couldn’t cook well, so I had to learn and that’s how it started, making all different things,” she said, adding that the great vegetables we have available in Scotland ensure your soup will be tasty and good for you.
“All local and freshly dug ingredients, almost of all them anyway because you can’t get everything in the winter.
Soup in the bag this week:Brussel Sprout & Brie £3.50Beetroot & Apple £3Carrot & Lentil £3serves 4Please click on…
“The most popular we do is carrot and lentil which I think is very plain, but it is a very Scottish soup. Also popular are jalapeno and cheddar, Caribbean sweet potato, and sweet potato and red pepper
“We also have mushroom and brie, and sprout and brie which a lot of people think sounds revolting, but it is actually really popular and even kids eat it.”
Anna has very kindly adapted her jalapeno and cheddar soup for our readers, the recipe for which is below.
- 5-7 jalapeno slices
- 350g potatoes
- 150g carrots
- 1 onion
- 1 celery stalk
- 100g mature cheddar cheese
- 2 stock cubes
- 1 litre of water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chop the potatoes, carrot, onion and celery.
- Add all to 1 litre of boiling water with stock cubes, and Jalapeno chillies.
- Bring back to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Grate the cheese.
- After 30 minutes blend the soup.
- Add two-thirds of grated cheese and blend again until smooth.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- When serving sprinkle the remaining cheese into serving bowl. You can also serve with extra slices of jalapenos.