Don’t think I’ve had a Brown Windsor Soup for a very, very long time. Trying to remember and my mind’s drawing a blank. It has a reputation. I’m thinking back to the late 1940’s or 50’s: deserted hotel restaurants; threadbare, rancid carpets, elderly waiters in ill-fitting, egg-stained tailcoats, chipped porcelain, grapefruit halves topped with a tinned glacé cherry, a wine glass of ‘chilled’ tomato juice masqerading as a first course; a slice of tinned gammon with a pineapple ‘garnish’. I’m crooking my little finger as I type.
If you’re interested in food history, there’s quite a bit of academic stuff on the history and origins of the Brown Windsor Soup: you can read all about it here. But despite its dubious past, the Brown Windsor Soup might be a good thing to serve to your friends on a damp Autumn day, especially now that the days are drawing in. Made well, it’s a suprisingly rich and smooth soup if beef and fresh vegetables of a good quality are used. There’s an excellent version in Mark Hix’s British Food:
Braising Steak is cut into small pieces and fried in a saucepan, along with chopped vegetables, such as onions, carrots and leeks, until browned. Flour and butter are added to the hot pan and stirred in to the mix to form a roux, and cooked for a few minutes. In goes tomato puree, crushed garlic, a few thyme sprigs, a bay leaf and beef stock and the soup is stirred and simmered for two hours until the meat is tender.
The soup is then whizzed up in a hand blender until smooth and passed through a sieve into a clean pan, reduced a bit (to thicken it up and concentrate the flavour), seasoned with a few pinches of sea-salt flakes and black pepper and finished off with a spoonful or two of dry sherry. That’s it.