Slowly does it: Mark Hix uses less well-known cuts of meat to create warming autumn broths

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I was having a bit of a freezer clear-out the other day and I stumbled across some useful little bits and bobs that were perfect for making into great autumnal soups – just what's needed as the weather becomes colder and the days get shorter.

The cheaper, less well-known cuts of meat such as neck, shin and cheeks are ideal for creating fantastic, hearty and flavoursome broths. Rather like store-cupboard standbys, it's always useful to have a few slow-cooking cuts in the fridge or freezer to inspire dinner party or supper ideas.

The other day I was sent Annie Bell's new book Soup Glorious Soup (published by Kyle Cathie, £14.99) and I can thoroughly recommend it as a new addition to your cookbook collection, or as a good foodie Christmas present. Annie is particularly good at giving readers ideas for extra accompaniments and embellishments which can really enhance the flavours and character of a soup.

Whichever of these broths you decide to make, remember that they will all benefit massively from cooking the day before and resting overnight, during which time they will gain added flavour.

Moroccan lamb neck and date broth

Serves 4-6

This warming soup is really just a bit of a twist on a tagine – and you could easily replace the lamb with chicken if you prefer.

250g neck of lamb cut into 1-2cm pieces (or 250g chicken thighs)
tbsp flour
1tbsp vegetable or corn oil
1tbsp olive oil
2 medium red onions, peeled and sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
30g root ginger, peeled and finely grated
tsp paprika
2tsp ground cumin
tsp ground cinnamon
tsp ground cardamom
A good pinch of saffron
2tsp tomato purée
2ltrs lamb or beef stock
120g canned chickpeas, drained and washed
10 dates, stoned and halved
1tbsp chopped coriander

Season and lightly flour the pieces of lamb then pan-fry them in the vegetable oil for a couple of minutes on each side or until they are nicely browned. Put them to one side.

Meanwhile, gently cook the onions in the olive oil in a covered pan with all the spices for about 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often until they are soft. You may need to add a little water if they are sticking to the bottom.

Add the flour and tomato purée then whisk in the lamb stock and bring to the boil. Add the lamb, season and simmer gently for about an hour, or until the lamb is tender. Add the chickpeas and simmer for another 30 minutes, then add the dates and coriander; simmer for 10 minutes. Re-season if necessary and serve.

Smoky bacon soup

Serves 6-8

I recently visited the Quinta de la Rosa winery in Portugal's Douro Valley to make some minor tweaks to Tonnix, the rosé which I have created along with the chef Mitch Tonks. During the trip I visited a fantastic local butcher in the area who cures and smokes all his own meats, and bought a piece of smoked streaky bacon which provided me with the inspiration for this warming winter soup.

For this soup I have also used these tiny Italian soup pulses called zuppa veloce which consist of, among others, small brown lentils, Italian barley, split green and yellow peas, tiny white risini beans and tiny mung beans. A good Italian deli will stock a similar mixture, or you could simply make up your own combination from whatever you have available in your larder or store cupboard.

2ltrs chicken stock
A piece of smoked streaky bacon weighing about 100-120g, cut into rough 1cm chunks
1tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into rough 1cm dice
1 leek, cut into rough 1cm rings and washed
A couple sticks of celery, peeled and chopped
A few leaves of cabbage, cut into rough 1cm squares
100g of tiny beans or zuppa veloce (see above)
2tbsp chopped parsley

Put the bacon into a pan with the stock and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the bacon is tender.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy frying pan and gently cook the onion, carrot, leek and celery for 2-3 minutes on a low heat without colouring.

Add the stock, bacon and pulses, season, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes.

Add the cabbage and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes, then stir in the parsley and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Beef shin and horseradish soup

Serves 4-6

Beef and horseradish is a time-honoured combination; the horseradish grated in at the end gives the rich broth a nice little kick and I've even added a bit of curly kale for a bit of veg. I've used beef shin here but you could also use cheek, brisket or oxtail.

250g beef shin, cut into rough 3cm chunks
1tbsp vegetable or corn oil
50g butter
50g flour plus some extra for dusting
2 medium onions, peeled, halved and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
A few sprigs of thyme
1tsp tomato purée
2.5ltrs hot beef stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g curly kale, thick stalks removed and cut into pieces
120-150g fresh horseradish, peeled and grated

Season the beef and dust with a couple of tablespoons of flour. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the pieces of beef on a high heat, turning them as they are cooking to give them a nice colour. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a saucepan and gently cook the onions, garlic and thyme for 2-3 minutes with a lid on until soft. Add the flour and tomato purée, then gradually whisk in the stock to avoid lumps forming. Bring to the boil, add the beef, season and simmer gently for about 2 hours or until the beef is tender. You can use a simmer plate for this or transfer it to a pressure cooker. Add the curly kale and horseradish and simmer until the kale is tender. Re-season and serve.

Duck shot

Serves 4-6

Last year I cooked some wild ducks for a dinner and made the carcasses into a simple clear broth, using chicken stock and herbs, and put it in the freezer. This year I fished it out and made it into a gamey version of a bullshot for one of my fishing trips, which went down very well – especially when made with Sipsmith, the Hammersmith distilled vodka.

4 shots of vodka, or more if you wish
400-500ml clear stock (see above)
4-5 drops of Tabasco sauce to taste
2tbsp Worcestershire sauce
The juice of 1 lime
1tsp celery salt
A few turns of black pepper

If you want to drink this cold as a cocktail, then mix the ingredients and pour them into ice-filled glasses with perhaps a bit more vodka. For a warming drink on a hunting trip, just warm the stock up and stir in the rest of the ingredients, pour into a vacuum flask and off you go.

Mark Hix will be appearing today at Mitch Tonks' The Seahorse Restaurant as part of the Dartmouth Food Festival. See for details

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