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Film Released: 1993

Genre:  Drama,  Romance 

Film Directed by:  James Ivory

Cast/Actors include:   Anthony Hopkins,  Emma Thompson,  James Fox,  Hugh Grant,  Christopher Reeve


Set  in England, this film spans a period of 20 years from the 1930s to the 1950s and revolves around the central characters, Mr Stevens (played by Anthony Hopkins) who is head Butler at Darlington Hall, a large country house owned by Lord Darlington (played by James Fox) and Miss Kenton the housekeeper played by Emma Thompson.


Made in a flash-back style, the beginning of the film finds 1950's  Mr Stevens reading a letter he has just  received from Miss Kenton (now Mrs Benn) expressing her sorrow of Lord Darlington's death, and reminiscing about their days at The Hall back in the 30's and explaining how her marriage has finally broken down.


Whilst they worked together, she had fallen in love with the emotionally repressed Mr Stevens who was to all intent and purposes, married to his job  -  a professional head butler dedicated to his "master", the gullible Lord Darlington. After many years in service together, the frustrated Miss Kenton, feeling rejected by Mr Stevens,  turned her affections to Mr Benn and married him, more out of spite to Mr Stevens than for love.


The film touches on other more serious matters such as Lord Darlington's affiliations with Nazi Germany and the fact that Mr Stevens, despite being present at meetings and dinners where Nazi sympathisers were entertained at The Hall, couldn't break the bonds of servitude sufficiently enough to have his own opinions on such matters as appeasement or Darlington's request that he dismiss two Jewish servant girls who had fled to England and the safety of being employed at The Hall with the possibility that they could be sent back to Germany and most certainty  in a concentration camp.


Even 20 years later, he finds himself almost defending the name and character of Lord Darlington who had been branded a traitor in later years, albeit in his quiet and mild manner ed way although by the end of the film, one is left wondering about the regrets he may have with regards to this and to Miss Kenton.


There are several scenes where food is served, but one in particular stands out.


Sir Geoffrey Wren an English fascist which character is believed to be based on Sir Oswald Mosley, has been invited for dinner and discussions at The Hall.  In the middle of explaining his  philosophy about concentration camps being a good thing, he suddenly breaks his monologue to ask Stevens about the soup which is being served.

SIR GEOFFREY: “ Stevens,  is there any meat of any kind in this soup?"
STEVENS: Ummm no sir. I think it's mushroom stock. Mushroom ends and skins, onions, and celery - no meat at all. Cold water. And then cook adds sherry."


Well, he's  almost given us the complete recipe. Here's our version - made with wild mushrooms freshly picked from the estate.


Happy Cooking !

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Wild Mushroom Soup with Sherry   Veg  HT  SP  40mins


Serves 4     Hot  Vegetarian  Vegetables  Alcohol  Soups  Starter   Eggless

1 tbsp softened Butter

1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 Sticks Celery, sliced
2 Onions, chopped
1 Garlic Cloves, crushed
225g/8oz Mixed Wild Mushrooms, chopped
120ml/4fl.oz. Dry Sherry
960ml/32fl.oz. Fresh Vegetable Stock

Salt and Pepper

1 teasp Cornflour mixed in a little water
60ml/2fl.oz. Single Cream

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1. Heat the butter and oil in large saucepan,  add the celery, onion and garlic and sauté, turning occasionally  until soft and transparent.


2. Add the  mushrooms and continue to sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring from time to time.


3. Add the sherry, bring to the boil and continue to boil for about 4 minutes until reduced.

4.  Add the stock, salt and pepper, bring to boil, stirring then reduce the heat  and simmer for 10 minutes until mushrooms are tender, stirring from time to time.


5.  Stir in the cornflour mixture and continue to cook on a medium heat for a further 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.


6. Stir in the cream then remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.

7. Transfer to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. return to the rinsed out pan and reheat very gently before serving.  Do not boil.



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