If you’re sampling any food related content on social media at the moment, you won’t have failed to notice that every man and woman (and their dog) have been barking on about it being officially ‘soup season.’
Personally, I’m not sure if that’s the case; I eat soup all year round and, to be honest, on most days ending with the letter Y. Having a season for soup is as alien to me as having a season for tea in the mornings.
The crux of these social media claims, of course, is that the inference is on colder weather blowing in and that soups can now been appreciated as winter warmers.
“Hi guys!” the American teen in the cardigan announces brightly on TikTok. “Welcome back to ‘All About the Simple Things: Part 85.’ Since we’re officially into soup season, today we’re making one of my favourites: Butternut squash soup with pecans, quinoa and avocado.”
“Bye guys!” I say and scroll past.
Soups are great, yes, but I would take things a step further and say that we have officially reached ‘stew season.’
For the most part, my consumption of stews is restricted to the colder months and in fact, my first stew of the year was birthed unto the world just last week. It was a Monday and in a pique of vegetarianism, I decided it would be a nearly no meat Monday.
The truth was: I’d come back from town without the braising steak I had intended for the stew and so it turned out to be nearly meat free by default.
Still, I had carrots, potatoes, parsnips, garlic and onions in the house and so I decided a root vegetable stew would be the order of the day. Still, lamenting as I was the loss of the braising steak, I then decided I would up the ante a little with a further embellishment: Dumplings.
I may have mentioned this in the past but aside from the eating of them, I even like the word ‘dumplings.’ For me, it is a byword for comfort and, as we all know, windy nights in October when the sun has disappeared faster than usual are perfect occasions for comfort.
Soups are great, yes, but I would take things a step further and say that we have officially reached ‘dumpling season.’
So many cultures have their own variations of dumplings but my ones, the ones which sit atop a simple stew must be one of the most satisfying – not to mention the simplest.
Slightly crispy on the outside, yet with a cloudy-soft centre, they are the savoury cousins of scones and they are best friends with gravy.
As you can see from this week’s photo, there were eight scones in total last week, two apiece for each member of the clan. However, as the little humans could only manage to eat one each, that left me with four. It’s not easy being greedy.
As these dumplings would work with any kind of stew, I’ll leave the choice of what to braise to you. They key though, is to time the cooking of the stew as such that the dumplings go on 20 minutes before the stew is finished.
125g of self-raising flour
70g of suet (I used beef suet, hence the ‘nearly’ no meat Monday)
Quarter tsp of salt
1 tbsp of finely grated parmesan
Water, about a quarter of a pint
Twenty minutes before your stew is due to be finished, mix the flour, suet, salt and parmesan in a bowl. Stir to combine.
Drizzle in cold water from a jug a little at a time, mixing with your hand as you go. You won’t need much water – about a quarter of a pint — but you’ll know when you’ve added enough when the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You don’t want to over work the dough as this will result in dense dumplings.
With floured hands, pinch off pieces from the dough and roll into balls, about eight in all. Place each of the balls on top of the stew, spaced out as much as possible because they will puff up as they cook.
Put a lid on the stew and braise for ten minutes at 180C, then remove the lid and give them at least another ten minutes, until they’re puffed up and beginning to golden.
And that’s it.
As great as the stew and dumplings were, I can’t help but imagine it would have been better with the braising steak. But that’s a story for another time – ideally a time in the very near future.
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