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Cream of Onion Soup

This feature welcomed the proposal by Alex Salmond while in opposition that Scotland should have a Winter Festival running from St Andrew’s Day (30 November) through Hogmanay (31 December) to Burns’ Day (25 January). Now in power as First Minister Alex Salmond has turned his proposal into reality and the Scottish Government will promote a festival which at the very least will brighten up the worst of the winter months. Alex Salmond launched the initiative at St Margaret’s Primary School last week and said of St Andrew’s Day –

“St Andrew’s Day is a celebration of Scotland at home and abroad. It is a chance to enjoy the multicultural Scotland we have become. But it’s more than an excuse for a party – it’s an opportunity to celebrate our history and talents. You would have to have the most enormous Scottish cringe to believe there is anything wrong with celebrating your own nationality while respecting others. People in Scotland and across the world celebrate their nationality while respecting other people’s identity. It is part of being a self-confident country.”

The new Winter Festival was immediately welcomed by tourism bosses in Scotland who rightly saw it as an opportunity to increase visitor numbers and help boost the economy. Gavin Ellis, chairman of the British Hospitality Association, asserted –

“Any efforts to promote Scotland as a must-do destination in the perceived off-season is to be viewed as a positive move.”

There was, as could be expected in Scotland, some negative reaction from the usual suspects. The suggestion of anything positively Scottish immediately sends a shiver up the collective spine of the Labour opposition in Scotland but over-all the weight of opinion lies with the SNP Scottish Government. The Winter Festival incorporating three important dates in the Scottish calendar should prove to be a winner.

Colder days should be the norm by the time we reach St Andrew’s Day and we welcome the Winter Festival with an appropriate hot dish. Cream of Onion Soup, including Scotland’s favourite food ingredient oatmeal, should help us thole the cold and let us enjoy the many events on offer.

Cream of Onion Soup

Ingredients:  1 large onion, chopped; 1 tablespoon butter or oil; 2 tablespoons medium oatmeal; 500 ml (1 pint) chicken or vegetable stock; 250 ml (1/2 pint) semi-skimmed milk; seasoning

Method:  Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and cook until soft but not brown. Add oatmeal and seasoning and cook for a few minutes. Add the stock slowly, stirring all the time. Bring to the boil, cover then simmer for 30 minutes. Liquidise until smooth. Add the milk and heat through. Serve garnished with parsley.

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