What is a hotpot? I knew hotpots from Vancouver restaurants as specialties of several Chinese cuisines, e.g., Cantonese and Sichuan. Diners cook their own meat, seafood, and vegetables in a central cauldron of broth – an Asian cousin of Swiss fondue. At least, this is all I knew about hotpots before learning about the British dish by the same name. I certainly never have seen the British version here in beautiful British Columbia where I live – the only British specialty widely available in restaurants is fish-and-chips, guv’nor.
On our recent trip to England (you can see the trip pictures in previous posts), the most common soup available was leek and potato. It was fun to sample variants on this wholesome and oh-so-stiff-upper-lip classic British dish.
Seeking a traditional leek and potato soup recipe for a chilly Friday night, I turned the National Trust Complete Traditional Recipe Book, by Susan Edington. I had bought this cookbook at the Dunster Castle National Trust gift shop in England. The book was on sale for just 12 quid – or pounds (I am trying to master British English in addition to Canadian and American to be trilingual, in national-English dialects). Sorry, I just cannot stop myself with one more photo from our trip – the lofty castle above downtown Dunster in Somerset:
I promise, this is the last photo – the bridge leading to a path to Dunster Castle:
This cookbook surprisingly had no recipe for leek and potato soup. However, there was one for a leek and potato hotpot. If you have read some of my other posts, you might have noticed that I am into food lore and history, so I was intrigued by this Lancashire specialty. It is a “fatherless pie”, which are less expensive vegetarian one-pot meals – without the traditional lamb – made when times are tough. Leeks and potatoes abound in Lancashire fields.
For the history and the recipe….