Welsh Soup – Summer Cawl

As I started looking for Welsh recipes and food traditions that my Morgan ancestors might have been familiar with, I was fascinated with the most traditional dish, a Welsh soup called Cawl. It seems everyone MUST eat cawl on St. David’s Day, March 1. Rest assured, we will be revisiting the traditional version of Cawl next March.

But while I was reading through the various recipes that claim to be THE authentic way to make the traditional soup (everyone’s grandmother has a different recipe, and your grandmother’s recipe is the ONLY way to make it, right?), I came across this decidedly different Welsh soup.

Welsh summer soup

Welsh summer soup ready to serve with cream added, bacon and parsley topping.

The web site of the British grocer, Bodnant, devotes a section to Welsh recipes, including this summery version of cawl.  Since soup, more than most recipes, just begs to be tampered with, I can’t testify as to the authenticity of the recipe–either with or without bacon, which the author says he added to this Welsh soup for extra kick.

Apparently the only essential ingredients for cawl are leeks and cauliflower.  This soup, being a summer soup, uses lettuce in place of cabbage, but the leek remains. And if you skip the bacon and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, you’ve got a lovely vegetarian version.

welsh summer soup

Welsh summer cawl (soup) before adding cream

I recommend serving the Welsh soup with one of those Dutch crunch rolls I wrote about earlier, with a big hunk of Irish butter. Yum!

Dutch Crunch Rolls

Dutch Crunch Roll close up

Welsh Summer Cawl

Serves 4
Prep time 1 hour
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Allergy Milk
Meal type Soup
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Region British
Website Bodnant Welsh Food
This summer soup from Wales takes advantage of vegetables available in the summer time and produces a cheerful,fresh-tasting, green soup.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium slices bacon (diced)
  • 6 long green beans, sliced (or 1 cup frozen French-cut green beans)
  • 1 leek (white end, washed well and shredded or grated)
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup beans (fava, lima or other similar size)
  • 1 1/2 cup Gem or Romaine lettuce (chopped fine)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh parseley (chopped)
  • 4 tablespoons heavy/whipping cream
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

1. In large soup kettle, fry bacon pieces until crisp, but not burnt, set aside on paper towel to drain, saving bacon grease.
2. Add the beans and leek and lettuce to the bacon grease and cook about ten minutes. Stop before leek starts to brown
3. Add chicken stock, peas and fava or lima beans. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook for at least ten minutes.
4. At this point, the soup can be stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to reheat and serve.
5. To serve, add cream and parsley and pepper to the warm soup. Top bowls of soup with crisp bacon pieces. If adding salt, go slowly because the bacon on top will add salt also. Serve with buttered bread.

Note

A cawl is a Welsh soup. More common in the winter, this Welsh soup is a summer treat.

About adapting this Welsh soup, the web site warns "Look for the best ingredients that you can find and although you are welcome to make the dish your own with whatever vegetables you have on hand do not be tempted to overdo it and muddle the flavours."

The website calls for "broad beans." Those are the same as Fava. If you want to use Fava beans and have not cooked with them before, be sure to learn how to use them before starting. You can substitute canned lima beans or other white beans.

The website recipe browns the bacon along with the vegetables, but that may yield the limp bacon that Britishers seem to love, and I don't love it. For my Welsh soup, I preferred to cook the bacon separately and use it as a garnish. Granted, you do not get as much bacon flavor in the soup itself, but you also save yourself quite a bit of fat. Your choice.

Little Gem lettuce is not easy to get in the U.S., so if you can't find it, you can substitute Romaine, preferably baby Romaine.

 

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Vera Marie Badertscher

About Vera Marie Badertscher

I am a grandma and was named for my grandma. I've been an actress, a political strategist and a writer.I grew up in various places, went to high school in Killbuck, Ohio and graduated from Ohio State University. My husband and I moved to Arizona after graduation and have three adult children. I love to travel and read--and have another website for that called A Traveler's Library. I ponder family as I cook.

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