Saturday, 2 January 2010

Stock answers

I've done well today, having not snacked on anything and coped with shortages already (no tomatoes, no sausagemeat, no quality tinned fruit, no leeks) and I've sent CJBS off to work with a packed lunch of (unrationed) fishpaste sandwiches and (leftover) soup.

Now I need to think on about my dinner for tonight. I'm wanting soup and have plenty of vegetables to make a good one, plus some pearl barley and oats to make it filling and thick, respectively. But to create said soup, I first need a good stock.

I've got a lovely large stockpot, bought a couple of years ago, but I've only ever used it to make soup. So I'm starting my soup-making today by making a stock that I'll add to over the coming days and weeks. As long as it is brought to the (vigorous) boil once a day, it won't go off... and I'll try to avoid my grandma's world-famous attempt at stock, where she left the pot for over a week on a low heat. Once taken off the heat, it continued to bubble to itself, before making a grab for power in an audacious coup d'etat and rampaging across much of Europe and Hessle foreshore.

I've roughly chopped an onion, a carrot and a parsnip to get it going, then covered them in water with a pinch of salt and brought the whole lot to the boil. Now to leave them for an hour or so on a gentle heat, then swipe some of the liquid for the soup-to-be. Later in the week I'll probably start adding stuff like mushrooms (meaty flavour) and onion skins (for the colour) before dividing into one vegetarian stock and one meaty stock, for which I'll swipe CJBS's bacon rinds.

As for tonight's soup, I'm undecided between cream of parsnip, cheese or potato and cabbage soup. CJBS fancies the parsnip, I fancy using some of my cheese ration on something a bit creamier still. Splitting the difference would mean I end up making the potato and cabbage soup...

Edit: I ended up making cheese soup, adapting Marguerite Patten's recipe, but not enough (although the soup itself was very nice).

The Patten recipe takes a chopped onion, 1.5oz marg, and a pint of household (reconstituted) milk and brings them to the boil together. Then you make a paste with 2tbsp of flour and a little milk, and add this to the now-simmering soup. This thickens the soup; then you add a cup of grated cheese, let it melt, season and serve.

The flaw here is that the flour paste didn't soak up the globs of fat on the surface - why would it? - and thus what I served was slightly unappetising. The recipe would've made more sense by starting with a roux (fry the onion gently, then add flour until the oil is all bound up, then slowly add milk until the thickened soup appears). I doubted that a creamy soup not made with a roux would work; I was right, although the taste was fine, especially when I added two ladles of my new stock and increased the seasoning (code for salt) slightly.

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