It’s Better Than The Alternative

I cannot count the number of times I heard Grandma say ‘It’s better than the alternative’ when someone complained about getting older.  And, you know what, she’s right – getting older is better than the alternative!  Today is my birthday and I can’t believe that I am most definitely in my mid-50s.  Where did the years go?  Have I really been with Dad for almost 31 years?  And don’t get me started with the fact that all of my sons are adults, and have been for a while now.  The thing that most concerns me though is, when will I feel grown up?  I know I’m grown up because of the way other people treat me, but I got an email today from Gill, someone I have known since we were 6.  Gill wished me happy birthday and brought me up to date on her news, telling me that she is thinking of retiring in a couple of years.  That one sentence made me stop – how can one of my direct contemporaries be retiring, even if it is a few years before standard retirement age?  I don’t feel any different.  I probably think differently – experience and more money have to change your thought process.  I certainly look different.  Maybe that’s it.  Maybe that’s all that growing up is?  A wee bit of experience and an aged and ageing body?

It has taken me a long time to think of the recipe I’d like to share.  After all, it’s my day and therefore my favourite recipe!  As you all know and as I’ve written often enough, I really enjoy soup.  Soup with warm bread and butter; soup with croutons; soup with a sandwich; soup.  All are good.  My favourite soup is probably Scotch Broth but today’s recipe comes a close second.  I made it a lot and I probably never made it exactly the same way twice.  Grandma used to make it a lot too and again I doubt if it she ever followed a recipe.  Today’s recipe is Leek and Potato Soup.  I did once follow a recipe for Vichysoissoise (French leek and potato soup which is traditionally served chilled), but I was immediately put off by the fact that you are only supposed to use the white part of the leek, which meant that a lot of the leek was going to be wasted.  Grandma once served vichyssoise chilled during the summer, and my brother’s comment on sitting down to eat it was ‘I’ve come all the way from Aberdeen and you can’t even heat up the soup?’.  Anyway, here is a recipe that is very close to what I usually do when I make Leek and Potato Soup.

Leek and Potato Soup – Ingredients

  • 450 g / 1 lb leeks, trimmed, washed carefully (they harbour mud) and sliced
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
  • 50 g / 2 oz butter
  • Pinch of mace, probably one blade
  • 450 g / 1 lb potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 liter / 2.2 pints / 44 fl oz vegetable or chicken stock
  • 250 ml / 1/2 pt creme fraiche
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter.  Cook the leek and onion until soft.  Add the mace and potatoes and cook gently for about five minutes.  Add the stock.  Bring to the boil.  Simmer until all the vegetables are soft.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Liquidise or blend.  If you like, you don’t have to blend – Papa liked his soup unblended.   Return to pan.  Add creme fraiche and reheat – do not boil.  Season to taste.

This is best served with a few drops of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce.


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