Two soups

I’m an avid fan of Masterchef – original, celebrity, professional, I enjoy all the different shows. It’s partly the cooking – but only partly; I think it’s fascinating to see how the different contestants, whichever the show, change over the course of the series. Some start well but seem to run out of steam and ideas, some start slowly but gradually develop into great cooks, some flounder along by the skin of their teeth, some are over-confident and you know they are just riding for a fall. The way their personalities as well as their cooking come across is interesting – even with some of the celebrities who would feel sure would e familiar with being in front of the cameras, are nervous and unsure in the face of the challenges. Shy people become more confident, over-confident people flounder, quiet people find their voice, loud-mouths lose theirs…

Yesterday’s challenge in Celebrity Masterchef was to make a dish which was in honour of or a tribute to someone they loved or admired. One person cooked something for their husband, two people honoured their mothers, one to a brother who had died in a terrible and tragic accident, and one person made two soups in honour of Victoria Wood the comedienne.

The two soups, lovely idea though they were, were a bit of a disaster, one was too thick and the other she had tried to thicken with egg and it ended up scrambled… and her bread was soggy… I bet any other time she would have made perfect soup!

So thinking of that, here are two soups:

Banana soup

  • 6 unripe bananas, thickly sliced
  • ½ lb green tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • ½ tsp celery seeds
  • 1½ pints good beef stock
  • 1 oz each of butter and flour (or more as necessary)
  • 1 dsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bunch fresh herbs, chopped
  1. fry the tomatoes and onions for ten minutes in the butter
  2. remove vegetables from pan and add flour to make a roux with the butter and juices (add a little more butter if necessary)
  3. add the curry, Worcestershire sauce, and celery (the written recipe suggests adding the herbs now but I think they would lose their flavour so I would wait and add them at the end, reserving a little for garnish)
  4. add the stock, stirring as you do so and bring to the boil
  5. add the bananas and simmer until tender
  6. I would then add most of chopped herbs for just a couple of minutes
  7. rub through a sieve (or blitz, blend or process)
  8. return to the pan just to bring back to temperature
  9. serve garnished with the remaining chopped herbs
  10. the recipe doesn’t mention yoghurt – hardly surprising since it’s a very old recipe and yoghurt wasn’t in use then, but I think a swirl or dollop of yoghurt/sour cream/creme fraiche is nice

…and here’s a traditional recipe I use for a borscht style soup:

Beetroot and beef soup:

  • 1 lb stewing beef (whatever you would normally use, any cheap cut) cut very small
  • 2 each of large onions and large carrots, cut into similar sized pieces
  • 1 head of celery, 1 large root vegetable such as parsnip, swede, or potato, chopped into similar sized pieces
  • 1 lb peeled beetroot in small dice (it doesn’t need to be cooked first)
  • a couple of bay leaves
  • oil, seasoning
  • optional – half a small cabbage, very finely sliced
  • sour cream/crème fraîche/yoghurt and dill to serve
  1. brown the meat in  oil
  2. add the vegetables except the cabbage  and water to cover (maybe as much as 3 pints, but if that seems too much, add less and add more as needed) and salt and bay leaf
  3. cook in a slow oven for at least 2 hours, until everything is very tender
  4. cook the peeled diced beetroot in water until tender, drain but reserve cooking liquid
  5. when the meat is done, take out and discard the bay leaf
  6. add the cooked beetroot and mix well, checking for seasoning and adding pepper. You may need to add some of the beetroot liquor or more water to get to the sort of soup you like
  7. if you like cabbage then add it now t and cook until tender to your taste
  8. serve with a spoonful of cream etc and a generous sprinkling of dill

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