My blog has been very quiet lately – sorry about that. There was a reason though – in addition to all the usual hectic ‘real life’ stuff going on. I was a finalist in Zuppa 2018 – a competition organised by the Giraffe Cafe as part of the Great Perthshire Picnic!
Giraffe are a social enterprise company based in Perth, Scotland and do fantastic work in their cafes and training centres. Please do check out the link to find out more about them. Don’t forget to pop into their cafe and enjoy a coffee and a bite to eat if you are ever in the area.
Zuppa is an annual competition and aims to find the best soup in Perthshire. I was slightly apprehensive about entering, just because I wasn’t sure what to expect, but so many people tagged me in the Zuppa social media posts, I thought I had better give it a go. I needn’t have worried. It was really well organised and great fun!
The hardest part was choosing which recipe to enter. I decided to go with my Oatmeal Soup as I felt it best matched the brief of showcasing Perthshire’s finest ingredients – in this case, Summer Harvest rapeseed oil and Blair Atholl Watermill oatmeal. I originally blogged about this recipe in my post Vintage Oatmeal Soup but have refined it slightly since then so have provided an updated version below.
Once the recipes are submitted, they are shortlisted. I made the shortlist, so found myself standing outside the concert hall on a November Sunday afternoon serving my soup to the good people of Perth. Lots of other events were going on too, so that’s not quite as weird as it sounds! All the contestants make 10 litres of their own soup, the public taste them and then vote for their favourite. It was great fun, loads of people were really interested to hear about and taste our soup. Queues formed at some points, so it felt really hectic and was over very quickly. Although 10 litres is a lot of soup, we all ran out.
Gary MacLean, Scotland’s First National Chef and Masterchef the Professionals 2016 Winner was there too to demonstrate a few of his own soup recipes and present the prizes. Let me tell you – nothing piles on the pressure quite as much as knowing a Masterchef winner might be popping by to taste your soup.
I didn’t win, but came a very respectable second (out of over 40 applicants) so I’m delighted with that. It was so busy that the contestants didn’t really get a chance to try each other’s soup, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you much about them. I do know there will be a feature on the winning recipe, so I’ll make sure I share that with you when it’s published.
Oatmeal Soup – Zuppa Version
- 3 tablespoons Summer Harvest rapeseed oil
- 1 handful (50g) Blair Atholl Watermill medium oatmeal for the soup plus a second handful for toasting
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced into 1cm cubes
- 150g turnip, diced into 1cm cubes
- 1/2 a medium leek, diced
- 700ml vegetable stock, it should be good quality and robust. I recommend Kallø organic vegetable cubes as they are tasty, vegan and gluten free
- 125 ml Oatly (the single cream one)
- 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Put the onion, carrot, turnip, leek and oil in a pan. Make sure your veg is evenly coated in oil and then sauté until the onions start to go clear and the turnip turns orange. Put on the lid and steam for 5-10 minutes. Your veg shouldn’t brown, just soften.
2. Add the oatmeal and fry with the vegetables for a few minutes, then add the stock and simmer for 20 minutes or until your veg is soft. If your soup is too thick, just add some water to get the consistency you like.
3. While your soup is cooking, toast your second handful of oatmeal in a dry pan until golden.
3. After the soup is cooked add the seasoning and parsley. I find I don’t need salt, just pepper.
4. Just before dishing add the Oatly, reheat the soup, top with a generous sprinkle of toasted oatmeal and serve.
Thanks to the organisers and all who came along on the day to taste and offer their support. I might see you all again next year!