The Mock Turtle’s Soup

Today, I bought my sixth copy of Alice in Wonderland – this one with illustrations by Tove Jansson of Moomin fame. And I also got the inspiration for my first recipe – Mock Turtle soup.

Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soo-oop of the e-e-evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!”
(These verses are better sung, by the late Frankie Howerd, in the 1965 recording).

Who has soup in the evening any more? Who even owns a tureen? Why do I not own a tureen? In fact I found one today in Anthropologie – a big white ceramic bowl with lions claw feet. It was magnificent – and would look totally out of place amongst my modern and boring Ikea bowls – so I decided to make the soup first. If it was marvellous then I might think about buying the soup a suitable home.

19th century Edinburgh confectioner and soup supremo, Mrs Frazer, has a recipe would be the nemesis of any vegetarian. This Mock Turtle soup is made of scalded calf’s brains a “knuckle of veal, three onions, two carrots, two turnips, a small piece of the lean of bacon ham, a bunch of sweet herbs and a paring of lemon,” and a ‘mutchkin’ (Scots for Pint) of white wine. The topping for this hearty broth is ‘forcemeat balls’ – a sort of bacony suet Scottish dumpling. While Mrs Frazer delightfully describes how to make this ‘scummy broth’ it is disappointing to read on and discover that ‘hedge-hog’ soup has pretty much the same ingredients. Methinks meat and root vegetables were popular in Scotland

I decided that I would be as mock as possible – and leave out the offal and meat and attempt to make something of such a verdant green gorgeousness that you could feel the chlorophyll oozing out your pores as you ate it.

I did steal, however, from Mrs Frazer’s recipe for Green Summer Soup – and the idea of adding ‘pease’. For rich greenness there was going to have to be peas, and broad beans and maybe some split lentils for thickness.

My first attempt was horrific – the cabbage was too thick, the lentils too hard and the peas turned quickly from a lovely green to a sludgy gruel.

So I went back to a basic and delicious recipe:

Two teaspoons of coconut oil
Two brown onions, chopped roughly (sautéed in the oil with a sprinkling of pink Himalayan rock salt to stop them from burning)
One packet of organic petit pois
A handful of squeaky spinach
Two courgettes, chopped
A pint of chicken stock
Creme fraiche to finish
A blender to whip till smooth

Let me know if you have any  recipes for mock turtle soup. I’ll be trying out some more soon, and experimenting with lentils and making cabbage soup (that isn’t for dieting).


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