With the country blanketed by snow what else can you think of but soup? A favourite recipe from my book An Appetite for Ale that makes a great pairing with a dark, Trappist beer. You can decide how creamy you want it - my preference is to add just a dash to the soup then swirl a little in each bowl to decorate.
250g portabella mushrooms, wiped clean and roughly chopped
1 small onion (about 90-100g), peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small potato (about 75g), peeled and finely sliced
1 tbsp madeira or amontillado sherry
500ml fresh beef stock or stock made with a beef stock cube (or 2 level tsp yeast extract if you’re a veggie)
1 rounded tsp grain mustard
2 tbsp double cream (optional) + extra cream for swirling
A good squeeze of lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley or chervil to garnish
Heat a large saucepan or cast iron casserole for a minute or two, add the butter then as soon as it’s melted tip in the mushrooms. Stir and cook for about 8-10 minutes until any liquid created begins to evaporate. Add the onion, stir and fry for 3-4 minutes then stir in the garlic and fry for a minute longer. Add the potato, stir, then add the madeira and beef stock and bring to the boil. Simmer until the potato is cooked (about 12-15 minutes). Turn the heat off and cool for a few minutes then add the mustard.
Pass the soup through a strainer, reserving the liquid and put the mushrooms into a blender. Whizz until smooth then add half of the reserved liquid and whizz again. Add the remaining liquid and whizz. Pour the soup back into the pan or casserole. Pour 150ml of water into the blender to pick up the remaining soup you haven’t managed to scrape out and add to the pan. Add the cream if using then reheat gently without boiling.
Season with a good squeeze of lemon, a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish each portion with a swirl or splosh of cream and sprinkle over a little chopped parsley or chervil.
Recommended beer match: I found Westmalle Dubbel was a great match with this soup but you could also try it with a porter or stout.