Friday, May 26, 2017

Hotroot Soup

My boys love the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. While I haven't read the books myself, I finally relented and made a Redwall staple-- hotroot soup. My boys read off the list of ingredients, and I adapted the best I could to this fictional food. We did find shrimp, potatoes, leeks, onions, garlic, horseradish, and watercress to throw into the soup. We did NOT find ditch nettle peppers or bulrush or mare's tail. 

The boys also mixed up a spicy blend of various dried pepper powders for the adventurous to add to their soup. 

The soup looked like this:

Our hotroot soup

And, of course, we couldn't stop with just soup. I tried to make farls of bread without checking online to see what a farl is. I know now that what you see below is NOT a farl, but the bread was loaded with seeds, whole grains, and pumpkin and delicious anyway. Although I've not read any of the Redwall books, I'm sure it would be appreciated by all the critters in the stories.

NOT farls of bread

My husband added to the feast-- shrew beer. He looked online for a Redwall drink, and brought home the necessary ingredients-- root beer, chocolate syrup, lemon juice, and ice cream. 

Redwall treat

So how was it all? The soup was actually delicious. I would make it again in a heartbeat. An added bonus was that we tried out a new vegetable to us-- watercress. We learned it was peppery when it was raw, but once it was cooked in the soup, it lost its bite. 

The boys are already making plans for future Redwall feasts. Maybe I'll read the books myself and surprise them someday.

If you would like to make your own hotroot soup, I can't offer an exact recipe. I basically looked at the ingredients and figured out a way to fit them together. Here are my (completely inexact) directions.


First I boiled shrimp in water with some Old Bay seasoning. I wanted the shells to flavor the broth, so I cooked it so long the shrimp were a little tough. I removed the shrimp and strained and saved the broth for later. 

In a different pot I sautéed in butter some chopped leek, green onion, and a ramp I happened to have. After that cooked for a little while, I added in a bunch of chopped garlic and a few hot pepper flakes. Then I added about a half of a cup of flour and stirred. Next I added back the shrimp broth a little at a time, stirring so it didn't get clumpy.

Next I added in a bunch of peeled and diced potatoes. While the potatoes were cooking until they were tender, the boys peeled the shrimp. I cut each shrimp in half and washed and chopped a bunch of watercress. I learned that the watercress stems were really tough, so a good bit of the stems went into the compost bucket. 

Once the potatoes were fork tender, I poured in some milk and a little cream. Then I dumped in the watercress and shrimp, as well as the last of some jarred horseradish, and allowed it to heat up until nice and hot. I tasted it and added a little more Old Bay, some more salt, and a little ground black pepper. 

The "hotroot" blend we added if we wanted it spicy was basically a blend of chili powder, cayenne powder, red pepper, and white pepper. At least, that's what I think it was. One of the boys engineered it, and I did not supervise too closely.

If I were to do it again, I would cook the shrimp just until done and remove them from the water so they don't get so tough. Then I would peel them and add the peels back into the broth to cook a little longer before straining it. I don't actually know if cooking them longer makes more flavor, but the shrimp broth was so good the way we had it that I wouldn't want to chance missing out on that good taste. 

I really didn't measure anything. I just added things until it looked good--like some soup a bunch of otters might enjoy.