Beef Chilli or Chief Billy Soup?

Beef Chilli Soup

"Tonight we're having Chief Billy soup," I told the older offspring before recognising my Spoonerism. I meant to say "chilli beef", of course. This is another recipe in The Soup Book by Carolyn Humphries. The ingredients include lean minced beef, crushed dried chillies, fresh red chillies, ground cumin, dried oregano, passata, beef stock, red kidney beans and tomato puree. Humphries suggests serving the soup with tortillas and guacamole. It's a cold day today here in Dublin, so this soup was intended as a warming hearty meal with the added summery twist of guacamole.

The four of us sat down to our dinner to the accompaniment of Ennio Morricone's most popular pieces of music. The soup was delicious - spicy and rich. The two older males wanted seconds but there was none left. The younger offspring wrapped as much of his soup as possible into a tortilla, added grated Cheddar cheese, guacamole and chopped coriander, and managed to eat it without squirting it over himself or anyone else within range. We reminisced fondly about his infant food fads - ham sandwiches, pasta with tomato ketchup and grated parmesan, and pink yoghurt! He now claims to be more adventurous in his food habits. And so he is, but those early years were hard going.

My own tastes were shaped by my parents' backgrounds and cooking skills - standard Sunday roasts, occasional convenience meals, curries, and "greasy spoon" cafe food. Added to the mix were various school dinners which featured many standard British and Irish meals. I don't remember puddings being on offer very often at home, but school more than compensated: jam or lemon curd tarts; semolina, tapioca or sago puddings; spotted dick and other steamed puddings; sponge and custard ... Then in my mid to late teens I encountered the lavish dishes of Normandy and the heavy stodgy food and rich cakes of Germany. After I left the parental home I began to cook more and went through a short-lived vegetarian phase. The spouse and I also made our own country wines for about a year. Now, as parents, we hope that our children will appreciate good food and be open to new food experiences!

Bee alert

  • During the week I read this story about declining numbers of bumble bees in the USA.
  • My mother-in-law sent me a note written on stationery illustrated with bees!
  • I baked banana and gingerbread parkin using honey as replacement for malt extract!
  • My bee box still hasn't been treated with preservative.
  • And finally, I ate both the honey caramel chocolates out of a box of Milk Tray!


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