Mr Harben eschews dried soup… but cooks quickly with tinned

It’s easy these days for people who like cooking and consider themselves good home cooks to sneer at a time when most people had to rely on tinned goods if they lived in cities… in really hard times such as during and just after the war, tinned goods were a wonderful supplement and could be used imaginatively for all sorts of no doubt delicious dishes.

Philip Harben, the first ever TV chef, published this book in 1946, but no doubt wrote it over the preceding war years, and definitely developed the dishes then.. this book is ‘Cooking Quickly’; we often cook quickly now, with microwave ovens, cook from frozen meals, ready meals, and of course all the take-aways and home delivery meals available!

Read what he says about the quality of dried soups… they certainly have improved in the last seventy years! I think he would be impressed! Do read his recipe for spinach soup… it certainly made me chuckle!

Tinned soups are excellent. If you are stocking your store cupboard be sure to include plenty of tinned soups.
Of packet soups I cannot say the same. I have tried, I think, every one that has been marketed, and in every flavour offered. But i find it hard to distinguish one flavour from another; they all have the same p[predominating taste: powder. Yet I see no reason why a perfect packet soup should not be produced. Most vegetables, meat, fish and eggs can now be dehydrated without excessive loss of the original flavour; so why not a good soup?
There are more things you can do with tinned soups than merely dilute and heat them. To begin with most of them can be blended with each other. For instance, suppose you need to use two tins of soup but have not two of the same kind – then by all means use, say one of tomato and one of onion; or one of pea and one of mulligatawny, and so on.
TINNED SOUP – normal procedure: open the tin and turn the contents into a saucepan. Add a tinful of water or milk, mix them evenly together by stirring over a gentle heat. bring to the boil – stir often, and serve.
SPINACH SOUP – from tinned purée: One of the best soups in all the world, and one pf the most quickly and simply made, it is done from tinned spinach purée and unsweetened condensed milk.
Turn the spinach purée into a saucepan and add to it half its bulk of condensed milk. Heat it, stirring well, and get it to soup conssitency by adding fresh milk, sour milk (even very sour milk – not an unknown phenomena in a weekend cottage – will do, provided it is  not actually mouldy or putrid) or water. Season with salt and pepper and grated nutmeg. Serve croûtons with it if possible (croûtons are fried cubes of bread or cubes of toast about the size of your finger nail)

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