a witches brew soup

a witches brew soup
Of all the food I cooked at Borough Market's demonstration kitchen suitable for a children's Halloween party, the one that got the most visceral reaction was my Witches Brew soup. Unfortunately that reaction was a unanimous "ugh". Where, oh where did it all go wrong? I suspect I was a victim of my own making.

Inspired by the classic Shakespearean quotation from Macbeth's famous culinary weird sisters, I wanted to do something both amusing and suitably grotesque with a green soup, that might appeal to children. Well all I can say is I know it made me laugh . . .

Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing.
my coloured "intestines" - bucatini pasta
So I plumped on a simple green pea and chorizo soup. So far, so good. I thought that if I added a few interestingly shaped vegetables and some coloured pasta (to look a bit like pink intestines), topped with a few chards of chorizo and splattered with bright orange oil that exuded while the chorizo was flash-fried, that I might have something suitably terrifying for Halloween. Although I would like to stress that no newts, forgs, bats, dogs, adders, blind-worms, lizards or howlets were hurt in the making of this soup . . .
mushroom "skulls"
It turned out that most people, including children, were genuinely revolted by the soup. And can I just say, at the "monster"-themed children's party I had help to cater the week before, they had bloody loved it! Bah. So there I was pleading with people to try it, "honestly it isn't as bad as it looks!"

It probably didn't help that I was cackling delightedly with unholy glee as I stirred the pot. Perhaps a little unnerving for some people?

Fortunately, once the timorous audience were brave enough to taste the soup, they agreed that it really was a very nice pea and chorizo soup but possibly the pink "intestines" was a step too far!

Serves ... as few as you can persuade to try it!
Skill level: Easy

600g fresh or frozen peas, or a mixture of both
olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of sugar (optional)
150g cured chorizo, sliced (about the thickness of a pound coin)
pasta "intestines" (see tips below)
carrot shapes, blanched
mushroom "skulls" (see tips below)


  1. Gently fry the onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until softened but not browned (about 10 to 15 minutes).
  2. Add the garlic, stir and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Add the peas, stock and herbs. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Take off the heat and check the seasoning, which will be dependent on how salty and peppery your stock is.
  5. Add a pinch of sugar and stir. This helps to bring out the natural sweetness of the peas, although you may not need it.
  6. Set aside to cool slightly.
  7. Purée in a food processor or using a blender. It doesn't matter too much if you soup is quite lumpy; it adds to the gruesome look!
  8. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Gently fry the chorizo until crisp on each side. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, reserving the oil.
  9. Reheat the soup with the chorizo, pasta "intestines,"* carrots shapes and mushroom "skulls."*
  10. Drizzle over a little of the oil that the chorizo was cooked in. (Since the chorizo is full of spices, it will have coloured the oil a vibrant red-orange colour). This all just adds to the overall "witches brew" effect. 
  11. Serve in a cauldron if you have one!
  • The pasta is simply made by cooking the pasta of your choice according to the instructions on the packet. I used bucatini, a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole that runs through it. As they cook they expand to long thin tubes - perfect intestines, or so I thought! Drain and refresh with cold water. Leave to drain until they have cooled and are as dry as possible. Tip into a Ziploc bag. Add about 1 teaspoon of edible food dye (I found pink was the most effective colour, although I tried yellow and blue as well.) Massage well to ensure that the food dye has coated all the strands of pasta. Set aside for about 2 hours. Rinse under cold running water and drain again. They are now ready to use.
  • To make a mushroom "skull," take a white button mushroom and gouge out 3 holes with the tip of a plastic straw. I find that if you poke the straw through the mushroom to make the "nose" effect, it looks quite spooky! Then take a very sharp knife (I used my Stanley knife) and make 2 slashes lengthways with 3 or 4 vertical slashes - to represent the teeth. I find white mushrooms look more ghastly than brown chestnut mushrooms, although the brown ones taste better.


Liz Thomas said...

HA HA! I have to say it does look pretty disgusting. Must have been fun making it though!


Anonymous said...

This is FANTASTIC and delicious and horrible looking at the same time and actually something you could get kids to have huge fun making. Bookmarking for next year.

Anonymous said...

This is FANTASTIC and delicious and horrible looking at the same time and actually something you could get kids to have huge fun making. Bookmarking for next year.