About a week ago I decided to make some traditional Irish brown bread and vegetable soup. I've been missing Ireland, so what better way to reminisce about the experience than by sitting down to the same food I was served while in the beautiful Emerald Isle! I also wanted to give my family the experience of an Irish tea.
I found a couple recipes online and went to the store to retrieve the ingredients. Brown bread is a dense, grainy bread that uses baking soda as its rising ingredient; fairly simple to bake for a beginner in the bread department...from what I read on the internet. Friday night I baked two loaves of brown bread to eat with the soup for Saturday. They looked very nice...except that they both cracked around the middle!
(Sorry, blogger is dumb and wouldn't post the pic correctly. Grrr!)
Saturday evening I went to work on the soup. Ireland's vegetable soup is quite different from our own. Our vegetable soup is generally tomato based. Irish vegetable soup is carrot and potato based. The recipe also called for parsnips, turnips and leeks.
I have never before seen a leek, let alone know what one was. And parsnips and turnips aren't a regular part of my diet either. Let's just say that Meijer wasn't quite prepared for a big demand in these few vegetables.
I got up early Saturday morning and started peeling and chopping all of the vegetables. Later that evening I made the soup. This particular recipe called for sage, parsley and thyme - with a little bit of salt and pepper to taste - for the seasoning. I had fun making it!
My most favorite part about the soup is that it is pureed. I understand that some people wouldn't be satisfied with just pureed soup for dinner. My dad was a little concerned because 1) he doesn't really care for soup, and 2) especially when it's pureed. I must say, however, that typically the pureed soup is eaten at tea time - which isn't supposed to be a whole meal anyways, simply a "snack." In America we don't have "tea time," we have supper...consisting of something hearty like a slab of steak, a heap of potatoes and a good portion of veggies. But for my sake, we were going to have "tea time." Yep, I even made tea (Irish Breakfast) and served it with the soup and bread. ;)
We set the table and prepared to dig in to what looked so delicious! I even arranged the place setting like it would be in Ireland...I think.
I took my first bite of the brown bread and it literally made my stomach churn. It was SO salty! It must have been that salted butter I used because we didn't have any unsalted butter like the recipe called for. It was also too doughy in the center. (I blame it on the recipe.) "Hopefully the soup will be better," I thought to myself. Yuck! The soup wasn't salty enough! Then I remembered that I never did do a taste test before serving it. I also found out that I do NOT like parnips, or was it the turnips - perhaps both.
I was so disappointed in how the bread AND the soup turned out. Well, my family must have liked it because they ate it up! They, however, never had the good stuff to compare my cooking to. They'd be turning their noses up too if they had tasted what I had been served in Ireland.
Oh well, there's always a first time to everything. I'll just have to get better recipes for the next time!