Wednesday, March 11, 2015

When Reading Leads to Eating

During our recent rains, I devoted myself to reading - after I got over my shock that it was, in fact, raining and not a plane dropping bbs on the living room skylight.

The "Rumpole Omnibus" is a collection of the works of John Mortimer and they all center around a London barrister by the name of Rumpole.  Presumably he has a first name, but it is rarely used in these pages and off-hand I can't remember it, so little was it used. 

Very well, Rumpole is dispatched to a case outside of London and takes the Great Western train to it.  His British Railways train serves lunch and he longs for Brown Windsor soup, formerly a staple on this and other routes.  Alas, the railroad has discontinued it.  Rumpole's mournful sobs triggered me to investigate this soup, so dearly mourned.  Maybe I was missing out on something good? 

Research said that it was very popular in the Victorian and Edwardian days.  It was a particular favorite of Queen Victoria's and frequently served at state banquets.  "Windsor" has nothing to do with either the castle or the royals.  They didn't change their names until 1917 or so and we have seen the soup predates that by a wide margin. 

The soup was a restaurant favorite until a canned version appeared and cheaper bistros served that rather than making it from scratch.  According to all accounts, it was terrible and restaurants quit serving it altogether. 

Here are two versions - Jamie Oliver makes his like this:
Butter and olive oil for frying the stewing beef
1 T Marmite
1 splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 medium red onion - chopped
2 carrots - chopped
3 sticks of celery - chopped
1 bay leaf
sprig of fresh rosemary
1 T flour
2 litres beef stock

The Windsor Castle recipe says add 1/4 lb. of lamb steak to the beef, 1 chopped parsnip.  Forget the Marmite and Worcestershire sauce and use a bouquet garni instead.

I say, take a can of Dinty Moore beef stew, put it in a pot.  Put a chopped parsnip and chopped onion in water and heat until tender.  Drain and put the vegetables in with the Dinty.  Splash with Worcestershire sauce and maybe 1/4 teas. of Better Than Beef Bouillon,  heat and serve.   

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