Christmas stories 6 and 7: Father Christmas in his onesie and Midnight Soup

Father Christmas in his onesie

Picture this: the 6’6½” husband stops to get some petrol on Christmas morning while the family wait in the car. He is dressed in a Father Christmas onesie (a one-piece outfit which has a zip up the front)

He has to wait in the garage to pay for his petrol and in front him is an extremely posh lady with a cut-glass accent, wearing an expensive Barbour jacket and with a badly parked Range Rover outside. She’s having trouble matching her pin number to the various cards she is trying to use to pay for her basket of shopping. The patient and smiling Indian proprietor suggests maybe she should use the cash machine to get some money to pay for her goods.

There is a small man, extremely drunk, who has managed to buy himself a meat pie (don’t forget this is Christmas Day morning) but is now struggling to get the microwave oven in the shop to work and heat the pie.

Suddenly the door is flung open and a harridan with long dark hair bursts in. I shall replace the ‘f‘ word she actually used with ‘frog‘.

“Oy!” she shrieks at the man swaying in front of the microwave. “Oy, it’s frogging Christmas Day and I’ve been sitting in the frogging freezing car for a frogging hour! It’s frogging Christmas frogging Day!”

The posh lady who has moved to the cash dispenser to try to get some money to pay for her groceries looks shocked.

“It is the season for joy and forgiveness, my dear” she says in her cut-glass accent.

“Frog awff!” exclaims the harridan and storms out of the garage.

The 6’6½” Father Christmas and the Indian proprietor exchange restrained smiles.

***

My aunty’s midnight soup which we traditionally eat on Christmas Eve is unctuous and lovely, thick, rich, and delicious;  it’s a beef soup with baby onions, button mushrooms, sherry, port, brandy and I always add dried fruit such as prunes or apricots to contrast with the richness of the added cream. It’s spiced with paprika, a little chilli, and warm Christmas spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice. It’s thick and dark and smooth and warm and lovely.

Midnight Soup (the traditional aunty’s recipe)

  • 1 lb steak
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 4 onions
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 pints stock
  • 1 tbsp chilli sauce
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp pickled silverskin onions
  • 10 oz grapes
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 6 tbsp cream
  • 8 oz mushrooms
  • 1 liqueur glass brandy
  • 1 tumbler glass port
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 level tsp paprika
  1. Cut meat into small cubes. Heat oil and fry meat until lightly brown.  Peel and dice onions and fry lightly with meat at low temperature.
  2. Stir in tomato puree.  Add stock, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  3. Add chilli sauce, pepper, cayenne pepper, and silverskin onions.  Stir well.
  4. Slice mushrooms and add to pan.  Wash grapes, slice and add to pan.  Bring to the boil.  Mix flour with cream and add to soup.
  5. Add brandy and port, salt and paprika before serving.

My additions

I add orange zest and mixed spice for a really Christmassy feel; if we don’t have brandy, I add extra port… My aunty didn’t specify how much a liqueur glass or a tumbler should hold, so be generous! I used to use rinsed silverskin onions, but now I use small raw pickling onions, skinned, topped and tailed, and cut the grapes in half. I add the mushrooms just before serving and the year I used the little Japanese shiitake, I particularly wanted them to hold their shape. I serve it with crusty bread and extra cream.

 

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