Dee: “It’s the back end of autumn. Winter will be upon us in a couple of days, so for tonight’s meal we wanted a warm and comforting meal to reflect the changing season. However, we’d had lunch out, including a super slice of chocolate cake, so a hearty stew or casserole would have been too much. We’d been planning on making up some soup earlier in the week, and I was going to bake some bread to go along with it, so this seemed to be an ideal tea.
Mushroom soup has been a long-time favourite for both of us. We’ve been making it as part of a bonfire night feast for a few years now, and we also enjoy mushrooms on toasted soda bread, so decided that mushroom soup and a nice soda bread would go well together. Jay prepared the soup while I baked the bread.
The soup is a quicker version than our bonfire night special, but with added black garlic, which brought a treacly richness to the soup base. I decided to flavour the bread with some blue cheese that we had left over from earlier in the week, together with some fresh rosemary. I considered mixing in some dried rosemary but decided against it when I came up with the idea of frying some of the fresh rosemary up with the onions and adding the rest of it as it was.
Prior to enjoying the soup and the bread, we were treated to the awesome herby aroma of the bread baking: an added bonus as far as we were concerned.
We ended up with what we set out to achieve: a bold and tasty tea in keeping with the flavours of the season.”
For anyone interested in trying this meal out, here are the recipes;
Rosemary, Blue Cheese and Onion Soda Bread
Makes 2 small loaves
1 small onion, chopped
Leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
50g blue cheese (firmer cheese is best)
300g white bread flour
200g wholemeal flour (I used spelt, but wheat is fine)
7g salt (less than the usual 10g, as the cheese will contain some salt)
2 teaspooons bicarbonate of soda
1. Fry the onion and half the rosemary until the onion is just starting to caramelise, then remove it from the heat, mix in the rest of the rosemary and set aside to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
3. Crumble the cheese and add about three quarters to the onion/rosemary mixture. Keep the rest separate.
4. Add all the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and three quarters of the onion/rosemary/cheese mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk and mix to a dough.
5. Turn the dough out onto a flat surface which has been dusted with semolina and divide into two pieces.
6. Shape both pieces of dough into round loaves, then flatten them slightly, coat the tops with a little semolina and mark a cross shape on the top of each loaf.
7. Sprinkle the onion/rosemary/cheese mixture onto the top of each loaf, then finish with a further sprinkling of the reserved cheese.
8. Transfer the loaves to the preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
9. After baking, leave the loaves to cool on a wire rack.
10. To serve, break the loaf into 4 pieces along the lines made by the crosses, and enjoy one piece at a time.
Mushroom and Black Garlic Soup
Makes enough for about 4
3 packs of chestnut mushrooms
3 or 4 sprigs of thyme
About 30g of rice (or a couple of slices of bread would also work)
Veg stock cube
2 cloves of black garlic (available from: The Garlic Farm Do go.. and make sure you have lunch there)
About half a pot of sour cream
Salt and pepper
1. Roughly chop the mushrooms and fry gently with the thyme until shrunken and cooked through
2. Add the rice and fry for a few more minutes
3. Crumble in the stock cube, add enough water to cover the mushrooms and add a bit more as well.
4. Add the black garlic and simmer until the rice is cooked.
5. Blend the soup, stir in the sour cream, season and scoff. Or,if you’re Dee, blend the soup, stir in the sour cream , season, drizzle with truffle oil (ergh) and scoff