With the increasing interest in quality cider, it is little wonder that De Grendel has ventured into this space, with the recent release of its Three Spades Cider, made from apples grown in Elgin, one of the premier apple growing regions in the country.
A blend of five different apple juices – 30% Golden Delicious, 30% Granny Smith, 20% Pink Lady, 10% Braeburn and 10% Fuji – it is light and crisp on the palate, with pleasing fizz, and refreshing apple flavours.
In a marketplace flooded with the sickly sweet, Three Spades Cider is that rare gem which is dry and clean on the palate.
The delightful package – an Elgin apple box containing each of the apple varieties in Three Spades Cider, two bottles of cider, and a pair of elegant cider glasses – arrived on our doorstep on the very day we decided to make a smoky roasted tomato soup for dinner.
The cider paired wonderfully, standing shoulder to shoulder with the smoky, robust flavours in the soup.
Ingredients, selection and preparation
2 x 500g packs baby tomatoes: rinsed
250g shallots: quartered lengthwise
4-6 cloves garlic: unpeeled
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme: rinsed
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
smoked chipotle seasoning
salt and pepper: for seasoning
1 1/2 handfuls of fresh basil: 1/2 handful finely sliced, the balance for the basil oil
1 tbsp coarse salt
250ml fresh cream
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Place the tomatoes, shallots, garlic and thyme in a roasting pan and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Give the pan a good shake to ensure everything is well coated.
Roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Peel off the dry, papery onion skins and the garlic skins.
Strip the thyme leaves off the stalks and discard the stalks.
Add the roasted vegetables to the stock in a medium sized saucepan and bring to the boil.
Cook for about 10 minutes, then blitz with a hand blender or a food processor.
Pass the blitzed mixture through a coarse sieve and return the soup to the saucepan. Discard what does not pass through the sieve.
Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and stir in enough of the smoked chipotle seasoning to the give the soup sufficient smoky warmth for your palate.
Stir in the sliced basil.
Pound a handful of basil leaves and the coarse salt in a mortar and pestle until it forms a smooth paste. Stir into four tbsp olive oil.
Serve the soup garnished with a teaspoon or so of the basil oil, a generous splash of fresh cream, a couple of slices of sourdough bread, and the piece de resistance, a glass of De Grendel Three Spades Cider.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes
Yield: serves four to six