Friday, August 22, 2008

There's No 'Tear In My Beer' Cheese Soup with Salmon Toasts

When I was a kid, across the street from us, there lived an English family. The mom of that family emigrated to this country when she married her husband. Lily was a petite, dark haired woman, much shorter than her very tall husband, and she spoke with the loveliest British accent. I listened with fascination to her homeland tales, and observed with great interest how she continued on with the customs of her native country. For example, Lily never drove a car; in fact they didn’t own a car. She rode her bicycle everywhere including to the grocery store. She liked to buy her produce daily, and as regular as Big Ben, you could see her head out at the same time every day to the grocery store. The way she pronounced my name encouraged my sister to call me the same ... “Poo-la”. Of course, my Italian grandma pronounced my name “Pole –la”, and I thought it was so cool than one name could be pronounced differently all over the world. Even back then, I was fascinated with accents, languages, and cultures other than my own.

Perhaps that is why I enjoy the Olympics so much. Although I appreciate a close finish, I’m not into competition much; rather, I love the stories associated with the athletes. I admire their determination and perseverance. Their guts. Doing what they do away from home in front of thousands. Plus, since I homeschool, the Olympics are one gigantic social studies and geography course. As I write this, the athletes representing Great Britain have earned the third most Gold Medals. Considering the fact that Great Britain's global square footage is relatively small, they certainly have a large presence in the Olympics and the World. I’d love to visit the English countryside someday, and stop in a pub and order real, bonefide fish and chips. Tonight’s Olympic menu will be the last installment in the series (I'm heading out of town for a couple of days), and it honors the cuisine of my childhood neighbor’s homeland (as well as some wonderful Blog friends) ... Great Britain.

When thinking of English food, several things come to mind. Of course, they make the best fish and chips on the planet, and they also lay claim to some wonderful pub food, fry ups, holiday recipes, and desserts. I searched the internet as well as scoured through my cookbook library (I have a *thing* for cookbooks) searching for something unique, easy to prepare, and that scores top points in the flavor. I was in the mood for soup today, plus I had some smoked salmon in the fridge that I wanted to use. Tell me what you think of the menu I came up with. And my apologies to my English blog friends if I totally missed the mark!

How does ‘Cheese and Ale Pub Soup’ served with ‘Smoked Salmon with Watercress, and Horseradish Cream Toasts’ sound? This was a brilliant meal ... not heavy at all, yet very full flavored. I kind of winged it based on all the info that I read. I served it with a simple plated salad of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and chives from my garden. I absolutely loved, loved, loved this. This was seriously good. This will be making regular appearances on my table. Once you try this, you will fall in love with England. Here are the recipes:

See the finely grated carrot? It added a wonderful texture to this creamy soup. Yummm!

Cheese and Ale Pub Soup

½ stick of butter
¼ cup onions chopped fine
2 small spring onions chopped fine
¼ cup grated celery fine
1 medium carrot grated fine
¼ cup flour
2 cups ½ and ½
½ cup milk
2 generous cups freshly shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese (not pre-shredded)
½ generous cup beer
White pepper to taste
Snipped chives
Smoked paprika

In a 3 ½ quart saucepan, melt the butter on med high heat. Add all of the onions, celery, and carrot and stir. Heat until tender, not quite 5 minutes. Wisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Slowly wisk in the ½ and ½, and milk. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes. Stir in the shredded cheese, small handfuls at a time, until all has been added and cheese has melted. Stir in the beer. Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes more; do not let it boil. Stir in white pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with chives and paprika. (NOTE: This is not gluten free. Next time I make it, I'm going to modify it so my gluten free kiddo can have some, too. She still dined quite well tonight, feasting on chicken and rice, as well as smoked salmon minus the bread!)

Smoked Salmon with Watercress and Horseradish Cream Toasts

1 palm sized piece of Smoked Salmon
10 Watercress leaves
½ teaspoon Horseradish
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons mayo
5 thin Toasted baguette slices
Smoked Paprika

Break the salmon into medium sized chunks. On each toasted baguette slice, place enough salmon to cover most of the slice. Dollop a ½ teaspoon (or more!) on top of the salmon. Top with two watercress leaves. Sprinkle with paprika.

By breaking the salmon into chunks, you don't have to worry about the toppings toppling off the toast. See how yummy this is? The cheddar soup pared beautifully with the salmon. Just looking at this photo makes me want to start singing "Britannia Rules the Waves" and "God save the Queen"! ok, ok, don't get cheeky ... I'll just hum it! :-D


Manggy said...

Hee! Did you also have a Filipino neighbor? If they are past a certain age they will pronounce your name Pao-la (pAAHwla). No matter how often you correct them. I am deeply fascinated by accents and cultures too, and if you've noticed from the frequency of my Jamie Oliver posts, the British are near and dear to my heart. Though I will not be able to tell you how authentic your meal is, it still looks very hearty and homey :)

I went to London in 2004. I wasn't a food-lover then; I had sad sandwiches and dimsum instead. Yowza. Not really British. I wish I could revisit it knowing what I do now!

Cheryl said...

Love cheesy soup, love cheesy soup! YUMO! That looks incredible my dear,very impressive!

Pam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pam said...

I deleted my last post because I spelled cheese wrong - I hate misspelling words. Anyway, your post looks wonderful - you can't go wrong with cheese soup. I love accents too and dream of traveling around the world someday. I have really enjoyed your Olympic series - it was entertaining as well as informative. Have a fun weekend.


love the little story of your name being pronounced in so many ways! mine isn't that easy to mix up. britain does have spectacular countryside - it's next on our list to visit (instead of london city, which we've done twice now).
this soup looks perfect for autumn - right now, it's too warm for soup (is your climate getting colder now?)

Jan said...

Lovley looking soup and salmon toasts too!!! I must give that a go.

Anonymous said...

That Cheese soup & Salmon toasts looks like a great fall meal.

Marjie said...

"Brilliant!" Are you, like me, watching the British murder mysteries on PBS? (I love all of them, but especially Inspector Lynley...)

This looks like an excellent soup! I just adore cream soups, and cheese makes everyting better!

Dawn said...

I am sooooo making this cheddar soup!! I love this type of taste. Don't you think a bit of sherry will go well in there?

Bridgett said...

I married a Brit who had a chef for a father. Talk about wonderful cuisine!! We had lovely conversations about food and I loved his accent when he told kitchen stories. I was even graced with his prized knife collection when he passed away.
This is a meal fit for the queen! Cheesy soup would cure just about any savory craving you may have. Lovely post, Pole-ah.

Marjie said...

Sorry, Paula, I forgot to say earlier that if you'd used cornstarch instead of flour, little miss would've been able to eat the soup! I prefer cornstarch in soups, although I sometimes run out of it (and never run out of flour).

Jan said...

I'm not sure how authentic this is as a British recipe, but it does contain many popular British ingredients.

Britain produces some of the finest cheeses in the world.

We also have some of the best beers and ales.

And because Britain is comprised of a bunch of islands, we are never far from the sea, so fish is plentiful.

And watercress has been farmed in England, mostly in the county of Kent, for 200 years.

So I'd say you did a pretty damn good job. It looks great anyway.

Interesting info about your neighbor of old. And thank you for all your kind comments about Britain.

I hope you get to England one day, I'm sure you'd love it, even though the weather sucks for the most part.

Sorry this comment is so lengthy.

Trina said...

My grandma (Filipina, born in 1903) would have called you PA-oo-la, with every syllable distint from each other. Manny, the other Filipino commenter above, would have been talking about generations younger than my grandma, but older than ours. It's common for people around our age to pronounce it POW-la, but POH-la is quite rare. The trend from Spanish to (American) English pronunciation, just in the span of a century, is amazing, much like the Great Vowel Shift in the USA a long time ago...

Trina said...

Oops, I meant Manggy, not Manny...

Jude said...

Very cute stories...
Had some type of cheese-beer soup and it was awesome. Such a natural pairing if you ask me.

noble pig said...

The food looks amazing but I love that story, Poo-la! Ha, that was great.

Gloria (Canela) said...

Dear Paula I think this look absolutely yummy and nice,Love it!!! I love cheese and salmon!!!!

Katerina said...

I have never had beer and cheese soup because I always thought it would be too thick and heavy. However your recipe looks delicious and so much lighter. The carrots are inspired.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Hi Pole-la, Give me about one more month and I'll come back and revisit this delicious soup. This sounds so good for a blustery fall day.

Grace said...

there's a tear in my beer cause i'm cryin' for ya dear...yep, that'll be in my head all day. :)

OhioMom said...

Oh that soup looks tasty, and the smoked salmon toast too! In another month or so I will be wanting hot soups again.

Lo said...

I love the look of this soup -- particularly because it looks light!

You can imagine all the beer cheese soup recipes floating about here in WI... and most are thick, rich, and slogged down with cheese! Nice to see a flavorful looking soup with a bit less weight to it!

Mrs. L said...

We had Chinese food on the night of the opening ceremonies for Beijing. We plan on having British food on opening night in 2012. I'll have to try this WAY before then though.

Katherine Aucoin said...

Wow, your soup looks wonderful. This rainy weather we're getting now, tonight is a good night for soup.

Aussie Oklahoma said...

ahhhhhhhhhh, that looks so good!

by the way, you've been nominated for the "I ♥ your blog" award

Dee said...

I can't comment on how authentic this is, but it does sound amazing. I'm now reading William Black's The Land That Thyme Forgot where he hunts down long forgotten British food like Hindle Wakes, and oddly enough Chicken Tikka Masala :)

RecipeGirl said...

It all looks amazing... especially that beer-cheese soup!