19 November 2014
An emergency recipe. For one of those times when you open the fridge or cupboard and find, Hubbard-like, zilch; a void, bare, desolate, blank or biblically barren space. An echoing emptiness and four for supper.
Never fear! Now is the moment for Axe Soup. Take your axe, go out and chop a little bit of this and a little bit of that, add water, boil it up and hey, presto, a nourishing potage. Some hungry souls even boil up the axe.
I believe this was originally called Leningrad soup, named after the siege in that city in the last war when life was very far from funny. Then it was made only with potatoes…
By the time it was introduced into my kitchen by a Lithuanian friend (Lithuania itself being no stranger to starvation), thank the Lord times were easier. Nonetheless, it is a soup of modest ingredients and if you haven’t got any of them you can leave most of them out anyway! Here goes:
For two persons:
A bit of butter and a small puddle of oil
Potatoes, peeled, chopped into chunks, not too small
½ onion chopped, very small
½ medium carrot, grated
Cooked beetroot x 2, diced
Dill, if liked
2 or 3 celery stalks, cleaned chopped
Stock: boiling water with a vegetable stock cube or water
You will note that all these things could have been grown in your garden. That’s where the axe comes in.
In a large pan melt butter and oil. Add onion & soften, do not brown. Add potatoes. Coat well in buttery mix and leave on very gentle heat to soften slightly, do not brown. Add carrots and dried dill if liked. Cook for about 5 minutes. stirring frequently. Add enough hot stock to cover generously – this will be a thickish soupy dish. Bring to a simmer, add celery & heat gently till cooked through.
[You can now leave this and do something more interesting if you like.]
To introduce the exotic, add two chopped pickled dill cucumbers and a little of the juice from the jar and perhaps a few cooked frankfurter sausages chopped up to spoon size. Don’t allow the soup to boil once you’ve added the cucumbers and sausages.
Serve the soup in the large bowls you have not forgotten to thoroughly warm. A swirl of sour cream makes a happy addition, and extra dill if liked either fresh or dried.
Axe Soup is now an established favourite in my family, and beetroot and frankfurters are almost always in the freezer for that biblically barren moment.
But chowder is still tops where BH is concerned, despite his loathing of all things fishy. He also loves curried fish fingers, fish pie, and kedgeree, claiming that none of them taste of fish!
I threw in the gastronomic-towel long ago…