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Scots Independent

The Flag in the Wind
Features - Carrot and Orange Soup

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Today (2 February 2007) was Candlemas, the first of the Scottish Quarter Days. It was traditionally the day that pupils used to give gifts to their schoolmasters – originally peat for heat or candles for light but this in time became siller or a cockerel.

Candlemas was originally a festival for the return of Spring held by the Romans in honour of Februa, the daughter of Mars. They carried torches through the city on February the first (the same date which was celebrated by the Celts as the first day of Spring). This festival was Christianized as the Purification of the Virgin Mary and was held on February the second. In medieval Scotland it was a day of pageants, processions and religious plays in honour of Our lady, as we can see from the Burgh Records of Aberdeen for 30 January 1505 –

‘The provest and baillies statut and ordanit that the said craftsmen and thair successoris sal in order to the Offering in the Play pass twa and twa togedir socialie; in the first the flesheris, barbouris, baxteris, cordinaris, skineris. Couparis, wrichtis, hatmakeris and bonatmakaris togider; walcaris, litstaris, wobstaris, tailyeouris, goldsmiths, blaksmithis, and hammermen; and the craftsmen sal furnyss the Pageants.’

Also from the North-East comes a rhyme to help us fix the date of Easter (alternatively just contact Jim Lynch!) –

‘First comes Cannlemas and syne the new meen,
The neist Tyesday efter that is Festern’s Een;
That meen out and the neist meen’s hicht,
And the neist Sunday efter that’s aye Pace richt.’

As this is being compiled on a cranreuch caul day prior to Candlemas, it is too early to know the outcome of the bittie Scottish weather lore which goes –

‘If Candlemas day be dry and fair,
The half o the winter’s to come and mair;
If Candlemas day be wet and foul,
The half o the winter’s gane at Yule.’

February can be a snell month so this week’s recipe is designed to heat us all up! Carrot and Orange Soup is just the ticket.

Carrot and Orange Soup

Ingredients:  1 chopped onion; 1lb (450g) sliced carrots; 2 ozs (65 g or ½ stick) butter; 2 ozs (65 g or ½ cup) plain flour; 1 pint (600ml or two and a half cups) chicken stock; 1 pint (600ml or 2½ cups, scant) milk; 1 orange (juice and rind); Salt and pepper; 1 teaspoon nutmeg; 1 oz (one rounded tablespoon); chopped parsley

Method:  Melt the butter and add the onions and carrots. Cook gently (without colouring) then stir in the flour and cook for a further 1/2 minutes. Gradually add the milk and chicken stock. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then simmer for 20/30 minutes. Liquidise before adding orange juice (including shredded rind) and reheat - but do not boil. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

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