Sacre bleu! With credentials like those on the cover, these recipes have to be good, right? Well, I won't cast aspersions on people appointed to illustrious posts like Director of the Ministry of Food's Women's Service, or who were awarded "many diplomas of honour and several medals," but let's just say that being penned by such accomplished gastronomical insiders didn't exempt The Victory Cookbook from the usual problems that bedevil recipes from this period: maddeningly vague quantities, imprecise directions, and occasionally crazy cooking times (see: rice boiled for two hours).
But the self-sacrifice of those on the home front helped ensure that "civilisation" would prevail - albeit at the cost of 888, 246 British and Colonial souls - so who am I to quibble with their cooking methods? And you know what? After I'd rationalized the amounts and made a few educated guesses (how much is "a bunch of fresh herbs," and which herbs are they?), this ration-friendly take on the classic Anglo-Indian Mulligatawny soup turned out to be quite lovely. It put me in mind of a lighter, more delicate curried squash soup without the squash, and while I'm not quite sure how that works, it made a nicely autumnal dinner with some (sssh!) grilled onion naan on the side.
Mulligatawny Soup (as adapted by me)
~ 2 tbsp. Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
~ 1 large yellow onion, diced
~ 1 large granny smith apple, diced
~ 1 tbsp. decent curry powder
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ ½ tsp, ground cardamom
~ A few grinds black pepper
~ 2 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped
~ 2 tbsp. chutney (I used 1 tbsp. each spicy mango and sweet lime pickle; please yourself)
~ 1 cup basmati rice
~ 8 cups water or vegetable stock
~ 1 tbsp. cornstarch
~ Juice of 1 lemon
~ ½ cup fresh, chopped cilantro
~ 1 cup cooked basmati rice (optional)
~ In a large pot, melt the margarine and cook the diced onion and apple over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
~ Add the curry powder, salt, cardamom, pepper, and tomatoes. Stir to combine and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until things are quite soft.
~ Add the chutney and the rice, stir well, and pour in the water or vegetable broth. Cover the pot, bring just to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes.
~ Add the cornstarch, fresh cilantro, and lemon juice, and puree with an immersion blender.
~ Taste for seasoning and serve hot, with a little cooked rice in each bowl for garnish if desired.