I’m sharing again a series of family stories to do with Christmas, this must be about one of the most delicious aspects of the festivities:
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
- 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.
- Stir in tomato puree. Add stock, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Add chilli sauce, pepper, cayenne pepper, and silverskin onions. Stir well.
- 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.
- Add brandy and port, salt and paprika before serving.
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.