I have just come in from the garden of my borrowed house with aching arms and the guilt-inducing smell of fermenting apples in my nose. This is not because I am making hooch out there, but rather that I have - too late - been raking up the leming-like apples that threw themselves onto the wet grass one windy day last week. Some of them are rescued and awaiting orders in the kitchen; the others have gone into the green bin where, judging by the speed with which they rot and the look of inebriated smugness on the sluggy faces of my bête noires, they will make fine, sweet compost.
Yesterday, I recorded the Guardian podcast with Kathryn Hughes, the social historian and biographer of Mrs Beeton, who made me laugh by saying that the Victorians hated salad; they were terrified of lettuce and would die rather than eat a raw tomato. Mrs Beeton must have thought that apples, well-boiled and pulverized, were safe, because she does have a recipe for Apple Soup.
This isn’t the sort of thing I would usually inflict on a co-eater, in case it was really horrid. But finding myself long on windfall apples but short on company a week or so ago, I gave it a go. It is probably the simplest recipe in the world. Boil some apples in stock, puree, and add a few spicey and peppery things to give it a kick. And, surprisingly enough, it doesn’t really taste as if it is just a few cookers boiled up in cheat’s chicken stock, but it is its own thing; a tart, fiery soup with a faintly glutinous texture.
It must be incredibly healthy too; but since I’m not I added some Stilton as you see (Wensleydale would be nice too), although this felt rather modern for Mrs Beeton.