It really is the season for making soups, but I like making them all the year round. Soups are so easy to make, and any leftovers or elderly vegetables can be transformed into something rather lovely. I invested in a soup maker, which does make soup a speedy process, twenty mins and it’s in the bowls steaming away, just ready for a spoon to plunge in.
During and after the war, when my mum was a young girl the family wasn’t well off, grandpa was away having joined up for the second time, her brother was in the RAF and in 1941/2 her eldest sister joined the army. Mum and her elder sister were both at school and then had clerical jobs so I don’t think the family were very well off. This is why, I think, I’m finding Nell Heaton’s 1944 recipe book, ‘Cooking for To-Day and To-Morrow so interesting. She has forty recipes in the soup section, and this is her introduction:
Many people are afraid to make soups because they have no meat. Such fears are quite unnecessary, for if the recipes are carefully followed delicious and nutritious soups can be made. Always remember that soup should be brought to boiling point, then simmered, and, when necessary, strained through a fine sieve. Thick soups must be rich and thick, but they must never be solid. The quantities given may be halved or increased as desired, and garnishing’s and accompaniments varied according to the occasion.
Quick soups may be made by adding raw vegetables to vegetable stock and boiling fora few minutes, adding seasoning and, if desired, thickening. A little grated beetroot added to the soup ingredients gives an added richness or colour.
The forty recipes that follow are very varied, and some of the ingredients may seem quite fancy, but of course, with gardens turned into vegetable patches, and clever gardeners looking for unusual vegetables homegrowns such as artichokes and sorrel, and locally shot game such as pigeon and rabbit and locally sourced items such as eel could make a cheap meal for a family. However, other soups show how resourceful families had to be – bacon rind soup, barley soup, gravy soup and pea pod soup indicate that nothing was wasted and even scraps were imaginatively used.
Pea Pod Soup
- pea pods, stringed and with as much inner parchment as possible removed
- 1 grated onion
- 2 peeled and sliced potatoes
- 1 egg, beaten
- a sprinkling of sugar
- garnish with fresh mint
- plunge peapods, onion and potatoes into boiling water.
- cook until soft then pass through a fine sieve
- return to the pan and bind with beaten egg
- add a sprinkling of sugar and garnish with fresh mint