Ah, it is with a full stomach and a heavy heart that I must bring us to the end of my Titanic soup investigation and will end with the soup served in the 1st class dining room of the ship which was purportedly a Cream of Barley Soup. A now well-known 1st class passenger was The ‘Unsinkable’ Molly Brown, the daughter of a poor Irish immigrant family whose husband made his fortune through silver mining. She was apparently looked upon with derision by her fellow 1st class passengers due to her humble upbringing. Dicks.
Molly apparently accrued the ‘Unsinkable’ part of her name after not just surviving the sinking of Titanic but helping others by taking control of her lifeboat and encouraging the women on board to keep rowing for 7 hours(bet they HATED her!) and giving her furs to those who were cold (everyone).
So the recipe I used, annoyingly had the measurements in ‘cups’ that strange American measurement that to me, makes NO sense at all. So I have translated it into normal-ish measurements that hopefully you’ll understand.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 rashers of streaky smoked bacon, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon parsley stems, chopped
1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
1 medium English mug of pearl barley
1ltr beef stock
300ml whipping cream
2 tablespoons whiskey
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
n.b I didn’t use whisky as I didn’t have any and didn’t want to splash out on a whole bottle and I couldn’t find a suitable alternative.
1. In large pot, heat oil over medium heat, add salt pork and cook, stirring often, for two minutes. Stir in carrots, onions and garlic; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until vegetables are very soft.
2. Add the bay leaf, parsley stems and peppercorns. You can alternatively make a bouquet garni out of these ingredients using cheesecloth. Stir barley into vegetable mixture, cook, stirring, for about 45 seconds. Pour in stock.
3. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 40 to 45 minutes or until barley is tender. Remove from heat; in blender or food processor, puree soup in batches until almost smooth but still a little chunky. Transfer to clean pot, cook over medium heat until steaming. Whisk in cream, whiskey and vinegar.
So, here is the final result:
So how did this taste? Frankly, I was disappointed and felt that the soups only got worse the higher up the class system I climbed. Maybe my pauper palette just isn’t accustomed to such decadence but I found this soup deeply strange. Due to the cream and the barley it to me felt quite slimy and horrible in the mouth. It in fact had the ‘mouthfeel’ of rice pudding which was quite disconcerting. It had elements of tastiness but the texture (which is VERY important in soup) was just too off putting for me to enjoy. It was a very rich and filling soup which wasn’t exactly what I needed in a heat wave but as I always say (starting from now) the soups must go on! Wind, rain or shine. In a recipe I read for this, the woman who wrote it said that it was the kind of soup which only got better after time but I disagree. It just became thicker and more gelatinous and I have to admit, I threw the last bit away after heating it up for lunch and just not being able to face it. I think my friend I shared it with at work actually thought I was doing it out of spite.
Cost: 4 pound signs out of 10
Tastiness: 4 tongues out of 10
Complexity: 4 Labyrnths out of 10
Overall: 4 Ladles out of 10
Conclusion: Personally unenjoyable for me but not sure if I’m biased as I generally don’t like slimy, creamy things of any kind in my mouth – make of that what you will.