Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Venison Soup with Bilberry Relish

Everything seems upside down this week - after a long spell at work with irregular breaks, I don't know what day it is - I'm assuming it's a Tuesday because I'm making soup.  Also, it really feels like autumn is just around the corner - where has the summer gone?  As such, I'm making a sort of autumnal game soup this week.  It also features a tangy and fruity bilberry relish, but you could use red or black currants if you don't have bilberries.

The ingredients for this soup came from a variety of sources.  The venison mince came from a stall at Kirkstall Deli Market, the Bilberries were picked on The Chevin, shallots from a friend's garden, onions, celery and carrots from a veg box and the stock from Essential Cuisine (okay - they sent me a few trial pots after reading the blog, which are rather brilliant and you can get you hands on them from their website)

As a measure of how my brain has seemingly stopped functioning, I had made some stock from scratch to use in this soup before a) I remembered the stock I was sent, and b) I made chicken stock when this soup needed Beef stock...  Maybe I should just go back to bed and wake up when my head is back to normal eh?

Recipe after the jump...

Also, someone on twitter said their stock was always tasteless and asked how I make mine.  I put every bit of the chicken carcass in the slow cooker - especially skin (and even the bones people have left on their plates...), any left over gravy, carrots, onions and leeks, pepper corns, bay leaves, rosemary sprigs, thyme and garlic cloves, some water and bung it in the slow cooker overnight, on high.  That should do it, and it also makes the entire house smell of chicken, which has lead to some interesting dreams (including one where I was being chased by a clockwork robot - although this may have been more related to watching Terminator instead...)

This makes stock which I have to mix half and half with water or it can overpower the soup.  But if you can't be bothered with that, buy some - it's way easier...


For the soup
250g Venison Mince
1 Large Onion
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Medium Potato
1 Small Swede
2 Carrots
2 Stalks Celery
6 Juniper Berries
75ml Red Wine
1.2l Stock
Salt and Pepper to taste 
Fresh Parsley to garnish 

For the relish
150g Bilberries
3 Shallots
6 Juniper Berries
3tbsp Caster Sugar
4tbsp water
1tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

1.  Heat some oil in your soup pan and gently fry the onion and garlic until they start to brown.

2.  Add the minced Venison and fry for another 5 minutes, breaking up the meat with the spoon as you do.

3.  Add the chopped vegetables, crushed juniper berries, red wine and stock, then bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until all the vegetables are thoroughly cooked.  Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool

4.  Blend the soup smooth with a food processor.

5.  To prepare the relish, slice the shallots thinly, then fry gently in some oil.

6.  Add the vinegar, crushed Juniper berries, sugar and water.  Bring to a boil and then cook over a high heat for 5 minutes, until the liquid has reduced a bit

7.  Put the bilberries in and cook for another 5 minutes, until the fruit has started to go mushy (A wooden spoon can help with this too...).  Set aside to cool down.

8.  Heat the soup up and serve with a dollop of the relish, garnish with chopped parsley.  Enjoy!


  1. I love the sound of this. I don't think we can get venison mince over here, but I can easily mince my own. Did you blend it for aesthetic or texture purposes? Would it be as good unblended, do you think?

    1. I blended it mainly because it looked too much like venison stew previously, but it smelled wonderful, so I imagine it would be just as good unblended. As a rule I prefer unblended soups, but I just fancied a change this time!