Wednesday, December 4, 2013


As the days are turning colder, the leaves barely clinging to the trees and the palms all being wrapped up for winter, I know bad weather is ahead. However, as the sun is still shining and temperatures this week are still in mid teens during the day, although much colder at night, I find it hard to think that winter has arrived.

This is the time of year that reminds me most of being at home. I know it rains a lot in Scotland but I do have memories of chilly days and the ground littered with leaves. Autumn has always been one of my favourite seasons.

One of the things I remember most was my Gran's homemade broth. My Mum also made it but there was always something about my Gran's soup. It was always warming on a cold day. I could smell it as I walked through the door. It has many fond memories for me. Many times I was with her in her kitchen as she chopped and grated her way to a pot of soup.

Over the years I too cooked the family soup. I'm sure every family has these recipes, probably not written down, but forever remembered. There probably never was an actual recipe, and the soup would be made with whatever you had. One important ingredient in our soup was broth mixture. Now, this is something I have yet to see outside Scotland, but basically it is a mixture of dried pulses. The dried peas being a favourite.

With leeks, carrots, potatoes and usually turnip, or swede as the English call it, you have the makings of a pot of soup. I use beef shin to make the stock. But I just throw everything in together and leave to cook for several hours. Towards the end of cooking I throw in a couple of grated carrots which gives it a nice colour. In Shanghai you cannot buy turnip so I substituted kohl rabi, which tastes pretty similar I think. I also had some cabbage in the fridge so this was an extra edition. My first bowl of broth this winter.

Oh it tasted so good, even better on day two, and by day three it was so delicious. All the flavours had melded together, and it gets thicker and thicker. One thing is you cannot make a small pot of this soup. Now I remember why I love this soup, not only the flavour but all the memories that come flooding back as I tuck into it.

It is so important that these traditions are passed down, I know my daughters make "the soup" and hopefully there will be memories in their's too.

So as winter approaches, I know this will be made pretty often over the next few months. As I head home to spend Christmas in Scotland I am making a note to prepare a pot of soup with each of my girls, just to make sure the tradition carries on. With my little granddaughter, Daisy, now three, I think it's time she was in on the secrets. I'm sure she will grate a mean carrot.