Friday, August 01, 2008

Brown Windsor Soup

Here in Canberra, I am suffering the depths of winter. I hate winter. It's cold. I hate being cold. Enough said.

For the last few weeks my parents have been braving this purgatory to visit me. This is quite something given that they have spent their entire lives in warm and tropical Queensland. As compensation, they demanded 1) free reign over the heater, 2) sole custody of the TV remote control while the lawn bowls was on and 3) good food.

I was happy to oblige with one. I coped with two by retreating to the kitchen in order to deliver on three. I can think of nothing more snoreworthy than an afternoon of Jack High.

The requests on the food front came thick and fast, but the longest and loudest was for soup. Lots of hot and steaming soup. It was the perfect excuse to try out a Jamie Oliver recipe I snaffled while waiting endlessly in my doctor's surgery a few weeks back.

It's called a brown windsor soup. Not particularly appetising is it. I don't know about you but any food described as 'brown' just screams bleeech. Which is odd because there are lots of delectable brown coloured foods - chocolate being the prime example.

Not to mention this soup which is quite simply delicious. It's flavour is deep and rich and hearty. No doubt ably assisted by this little number - Vegemite.

As you probably know, Vegemite is a peculiarly Australian staple. Unpalatable to many foreigners but much loved by ourselves. I practically existed on this stuff as a child and I still eat it almost every day. It's usually spread on toast, sandwiches or cracker biscuits, but it can also find its way into gravies, soups, casseroles.

Marmite is an (albeit inferior ;-}) alternative for those in the UK and NZ. However, for those elsewhere, I'm not sure what the options are. There's nothing else quite like Vegemite. Unless it's Promite and you can only get that in Australia as well.

Brown Windsor Soup
(adapted from Delicious Magazine July 2008)

a large knob of butter
olive oil
500g chuck steak, diced
1 tbspn vegemite or marmite
splash worcestershire sauce
1 red onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
sprig of rosemary
1 tbspn plain flour
2 litres beef stock
1/3 cup pearl barley

Melt butter and add olive oil in a large saucepan. Lightly brown the meat and stir in the vegemite and sauce. Turn up the heat and keep stirring until all the liquid has evaporated.

Add the veggies, bay leaf and rosemary. Cover and sweat gently over a low heat for about 8 minutes until the veggies have softened.

Stir in the flour, and after about a minute add the stock. Season with pepper and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Add the barley and cook for about an hour and a quarter, or until soft.

Take the saucepan off the heat and discard the bay leaf and rosemary sprigs.
Whiz the soup with a hand held blender to allow it to thicken. Leave plenty of chunky bits.

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At 11:36 pm, Blogger David T. Macknet said...

I'm so glad that you're using that stuff as a soup additive - it's about the only way to use it!

At 11:53 pm, Blogger giz said...

Actually, the soup looks really good - it's the vegemite that scares the bejeezuz outa me1!! My cousin is arriving from Melbourne on Sunday and I asked her to bring distinctly Australian things - gawd..please don't bring vegemite. I really meant Lamingtons.

At 1:37 am, Blogger Deborah said...

My brother in law is from Australia, so he always has some Vegemite on hand. I tried it once and will probably never try it again!

And you can send some of that winter my way - I'm tired of the heat!

At 3:34 am, Blogger Patricia Scarpin said...

I don't have anything against brown food, KJ, but I hear you. I'm glad you tried the soup - and I'm sure your parents are happy, too!

At 6:18 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the way you people talk down there..."One knob of butter"...I don't know how much a knob is but I love it!

At 8:14 am, Blogger Nora B. said...

Hi KJ,

So nice of you to let them have the heater. I currently have sole rights over the heater at our place.

I love that pic with the vegemite, so very original.

The recipe appears much more tantalizing that it's name. Thanks for sharing and bring on more soup! I am running out of ideas....

have a nice weekend,

At 9:51 am, Blogger Laura said...

OK now I am dying of curiosity about vegemite...

I have an award for you:

At 8:11 am, Blogger grace said...

so if i try vegemite and love it immediately, can i be considered a australian citizen? will i miraculously begin speaking with your awesome accent? if only... :)

by the way, i wouldn't survive the winter without soup, and this one sounds great.

At 9:19 pm, Blogger KJ said...

Hi Davimack - LOL!!

Hi Giz - vegemite is not so bad I promise. Lamingtons are delish. I hope you get lucky.

Hi Deborah - it is an acquired taste for sure. I would be more than happy to deport our winter. If only I could.

Hi Patricia - thanks, they really enjoyed it.

Hi Cathy - there is no real measure for a knob. It's just a small lump. Not much more help is it - LOL.

Hi Laura - thanks for the award. I hope you get to try vegemite one day.

Hi Grace - in essence yes. But I'm not sure our Government would agree :)

At 2:54 am, Anonymous Marie said...

Thqank you for sharing these recipes, esp the Wicked Sweet indulgences ones as i cant find this book anywhere without having to spend loads of money on one.


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