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Make mine a hot ’n hearty broth

LAST week I spent a relaxing early lunch with a couple of friends who were in town from Sydney.

We had a light meal and a glass or two of warming red. When I got home, however, I realised that my appetite had not been satiated and the wine had made me hungry.

Sadly, the cupboard at home was a little lacking. What I wanted was a hearty winter soup, like the one my mum makes and drops round in ice-cream containers because she knows she will never get the container back.

Hearty pea and ham soup has always been my favourite and I came to a realisation that there had been no home deliveries so far this year.

I was immediately on the blower to my old dear about the lack of action on the soup front.

After some feeble excuses, mum assured me she would get down to work and whistle up a brew.

I suppose the late onset of winter this year may have something to do with my mother’s tardiness in the soup stakes. Other countries around the world have a much easier way of identifying seasons and therefore mothers don’t get confused about when they need to start dropping off the care parcels of soup.

In Perth we have changing seasons, but they seem to change on a daily basis. One day we have an English summer’s day in the middle of our winter and the next day we have rain and wind. No wonder my old dear gets confused.

When I was in England I would regularly head down to my local, the Paultney Arms, on a Sunday night for one of Barbara’s (the landlord’s wife) beef and gravy puddings. It had masses of beef swimming in gravy inside a huge Yorkshire pudding, with a side order of chips to mop up the gravy and a pint just to ensure you were full to overflowing.

Tradition is not always healthy, so occasionally I would swap my pudding for sausages, mushy peas, gravy and mash … and a pint. Traditional English stodgy grub, now that is what winter’s all about.

These days we seem preoccupied with healthy eating, which has led to the slow demise of traditional pub grub. Too often these days we are worried about the bulging waistline and clogging arteries to enjoy the delights warming winter grub can bring.

So what’s good to eat on a cold and rainy winter’s night when the couch, the TV and the ugh boots are more appealing than a night out?

Voyager Estate marketing manager Adam Palmer

“Normally I am one for light, fresh, simple and healthy meals, nothing rich and bad for you. However I am quite partial to a hearty bowl of cassoulet. Cassoulet distinctively says winter to me. It is everything that I would normally not have. Yeah, I am quite fond of a warming bowl of cassoulet, best washed down with a wine like the Tom Price White from Voyager.”

Matilda Bay director Warwick Lavis tells me his favourite winter meal is a pie. No ordinary pie, mind you, but a rich and hearty game pie filled with beef and kangaroo to give it a traditional Aussie flavour. I can think of nothing better than sitting down with a bottle of shiraz and the delights of a well-prepared game pie.

Michael Tamburri of La Vigna wine store in Mt Lawley tells me he likes nothing better than peasant food during winter.

“I’ll tell you the best dish,” he says. “You get lentils and you add in sausages. Not ordinary sausages, good pork and beef sausages.” (Mike’s mate Vince at Mondos Butchers in Inglewood makes them. He thinks they are called Cotichino.) “You slice up these sausages thin and sprinkle good virgin olive oil over the top and heat through for a while. Belissimo. And I like to drink a pinot noir or a medium bodied shiraz with this dish.”

What about a chianti, Mike?

Kate Lamont says her favourite winter treat is lentils.

“I do this dish with lentils spiced up a bit with turmeric and some spinach mixed through. Then I add a piece of fish and a spoon full of creme fraiche.

Then it’s time to put the feet up after opening a old white burgundy-style wine – like the ones Houghtons make – and relax.”

My mum’s favourite winter meal is one she doesn’t cook herself, which is probably a good thing if you have tried anything other than her soup. That’s a bit harsh, as she does produce a fantastic lamb roast on family occasions when one of the kids pops round and help her with the potatoes.

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