They do say that every day’s a school day, and last Wednesday was a case in point. That was when we in Ireland and the U.K. learned all about an interesting new principle at work in our local food systems: the Horse-n-Beef Uncertainty Principle, where the purchase of a factory-processed supermarket beef burger could leave you uncertain as to how much beef (or pork or horse meat) that burger actually contained.
Today, spud duty calls – as it so often does – and I will be busy seeing and sampling all that the SPUDS.ie Tastefest has to offer. I will, in due course, report on the tuberous goings-on but, in the meantime – and lest you should find yourself feeling sad and spudless – I took the precaution of making some potato soup. This one has added beer, guaranteed to keep you cheery ’til I get back.
Potato and Beer Soup
This soup is a simple enough gathering of potatoes, onion, garlic and celery, but with beer for added body, and perked up by the addition of mustard, soy sauce and some grated cheese. It’s a recipe I did for the crew over at potato.ie and you can see what I had to say on the subject of soup – potato and otherwise – over here.
- vegetable oil for frying
- 2 large red onions (approx. 400g), finely chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 medium-sized potatoes (approx. 600g), washed, skins left on, and finely diced
- 4 large sticks of celery (approx. 200g), finely diced
- 700ml light veg stock
- 500ml red ale
- 3 tblsp soy sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dijon or other mustard
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp sherry vinegar or to taste (or use sherry or lemon juice)
- approx. 50g mature cheddar cheese, grated (or use another flavoursome hard cheese, like Gruyère or Glebe Brethan)
You’ll also need:
- A hand-held or other blender for blending the soup.
- Place a large saucepan over a medium heat. When hot add vegetable oil to coat the pan. Add the onions and fry for around 10 minutes or until softened and starting to brown a little at the edges.
- Add the garlic, stir and fry for around a minute, then add the potatoes and celery and fry for another 5 minutes more.
- Add the stock, ale, soy sauce and bay leaf. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for around 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Remove from the heat, remove the bay leaf and blend the mixture using a handheld or other blender, leaving some chunks if you like.
- Add mustard and black pepper to taste and more soy sauce if you think it needs it. Finish with a splash of sherry vinegar – only a small amount is needed to brighten the taste so gently does it – or you can try sherry or lemon juice for different finishing effects.
- The soup will be fairly thick, so thin as desired with boiling water. To serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle a little grated cheese on top. Some cheese toasties alongside would make it even better.
- You could, to mix a metaphor, beef this up by adding some cooked ham or bacon. You could also experiment with different beers.
- Serves around 6
I am well and truly awash with cookbooks these days. Yet another brace of books has come my way, joining what is an already noisy chorus of volumes on my shelves (some of whom, it must be said, have more to shout about than others). These newcomers, though, do, I think, present reason enough, each in their own right, to make their voices heard in the cookbook crowd.
In the case of the first book, I will first freely admit to a certain degree of bias. Goodall’s Modern Irish Cookbook, launched last Thursday in the Merrion Hotel, is a collection of recipes from Irish bloggers. And yes, as noted in this Saturday’s Irish Times, yours truly is a contributor (just look for the sentence containing the word potato – always a good chance that you’ll find me nearby).