The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Apparently I missed National Hobbit Day, which was on Sunday, September 22. Well, hell! Who knew this was a thing? Me, it would seem. Anyway, three days later, I present this lovely blog post in homage to my favorite fictional fantasy foodies! Who, I ask you, doesn’t love The Lord of the Rings trilogy, whether the books or the films? Or, like me, both! But the books are a pivotal read in anyone’s life, especially those of us who live primarily in their imaginations, who are fans of fantasy and sci-fi, or who study and love the construction of language and linguistics. The Lord of the Rings trilogy fulfills all those, plus they are just damn good adventure stories unto themselves.

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I read them all when I was about 13. They were my dad’s, who was also a huge bookworm, and the book containing all three stories is one of the things I’m most proud to have inherited from him, along with his love of books and reading. (That’s my dad! Wasn’t he handsome?)

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He always had several books in his car, and it was like a movable feast of novels to climb in and see what he’d been reading. I think most of the books I was turned onto in my early teens were books he himself was reading. It by Stephen King, Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, The Collected Works of Guy de Maupaussant, The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis, and of course, Tolkien’s masterpiece.

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My version has all three of the novels – The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King – all in one large tome, and I’m on Book 2 – again. One of the funniest scenes in the book, and which was brilliantly visualized in the film, was from The Two Towers, Chapter 4, “Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit,” when Frodo and Sam are searching for the One Ring, and they’ve captured Gollum to be their guide into Mordor. Sam, as usual, is hungry, which is the the usual state for a Hobbit, and tries to get Gollum to find some herbs to make a rabbit stew, which he dreams about garnishing with potatoes, or as he endearingly calls them “taters.”

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“Smeagol won’t go, O no precious, not this time,” hissed Gollum. He’s frightened, and he’s very tired, and this hobbit’s not nice, not nice at all. Smeagol won’t grub for roots and carrotses and taters. What’s taters, precious, eh, what’s taters?” “Po-ta-toes,” said Sam. “The Gaffer’s delight, and rare good ballast for an empty belly.”

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In the film, Sam is very sarcastic in describing what they are, telling Gollum “boil em, mash em, ‘stick em in a stew.” The movie scene is, of course, hilarious, but I also loved the scene in the book because I could just imagine Sam whapping Gollum upside his head for not understanding how important potatoes really are.

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Humor aside, The Lord of the Rings books are such a wonderful adventure of friendship, love, sacrifice, linguistics and symbolism, and ultimately doing something for a cause greater than yourself. The books have been analyzed and reviewed hundreds of times by scholars and readers far more intelligent than me, so all I will say is that everyone should read these books.

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Back to the po-tay-toes. Potato soup. With cheddar. And Guinness. You can’t tell me that doesn’t sound delectable, fit food even for a Hobbit, who we know are discerning eaters and love their beer. I found this recipe on the delicious food blog Simply Recipes, and though I tweaked it slightly, the overall recipe remains faithful to Elise Bauer’s version and is, I think, a wonderful homage to Tolkien, Frodo, and of course, our own chef of Middle-Earth, Sam.

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INGREDIENTS
Butter and olive oil
1 yellow onion
3 ribs of celery
4 cloves of garlic
2 carrots, peeled
4-5 russet potatoes, peeled and sliced fairly thinly
3-4 cups chicken stock, enough to cover the potatoes
1 1/2 cups Guinness extra stout (probably the whole bottle because why waste it?)
Chicken stock cube
Ground thyme
2 bay leaves
7 ounces of extra sharp cheddar, shredded
Several dashes of Worchestershire sauce
Paprika and fresh thyme leaves for garnish

METHOD
Finely dice the onion, celery, garlic and carrots, and cook in a large soup pot with the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Sprinkle over some salt to release their juices and keep from burning. Cook about 10 minutes, or until the veg are soft and translucent.

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Add the potato slices, stir so they are covered with the vegetable mush, then add the chicken stock, the Guinness and the stock cube.Oh, that lovely scent!

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Toss in a good tablespoon of the ground thyme, two bay leaves, cover and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and tender and can be easily cut with a fork.

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Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. What’s fun about making this soup is it gives you an excuse to bust out the stick blender. I love playing with the stick blender, because it makes me feel competent and like I know what I’m doing. Add about a handful of the shredded cheese to the soup mixture, then blitz with the hand mixer. Go cautiously, so you don’t splatter yourself with hot soup. Continue adding in the cheese and mixing until all is combined into a smooth, golden consistency.

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Stir to mix and amalgamate everything, and put on low heat to gently get back to a nice, piping hot temperature, then add in some dashes of Worchestershire sauce – dashes being the scientific measurement here – and strip off some fresh thyme leaves and sprinkle across the top. Add a sprinkle (another scientific measurement!) of smoked paprika for color and added garnish, and swallow down one heavenly mouthful at a time. Very good with any extra Guinness you might have on hand, or with a nice, bold red wine.

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42 thoughts on “The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

      1. In one of my novels, I paid homage to Avebury Henge and Tolkien’s trees. Immense Beech trees JRR was said to have wandered amongst.
        Search Tolkien Avebury trees for clues. No doubt the attached Red Lion pub cooks up a mean TaterCheese soup.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Love love love! I love this trilogy, love the movies, we even have a puzzle book with different puzzles of all the characters. So jealous of your copy though! Wow, how sweet that it was your dad’s copy too. You look so much like him!

    That part with the taters–my kids joke about it all the time. Your post makes me think of Sam and how he was accused of eating all the Lembas bread. 😥 I could’ve strangled Gollum myself at that point.

    I’m keeping this recipe for sure! Love this post, Vanessa. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too! It’s one of the best book series ever in creation! 🙂 Yes, my dad’s edition is very treasured and loved in my house. Thank you for the lovely compliment that I resemble him. I appreciate that so much. It’s funny about Gollum, isn’t it, that he was so dislikeable and yet such a pathetic creature at the same time. You hated him but you felt sorry for him too. If you try the soup, do let me know how it comes out for you. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh how fun that must have been! There are so many different things that one could make, either directly from any of the books or inspired by. I always wanted to try my hand at making Elven waybread but so far it hasn’t happened. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story about the Tolkien lunch!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love it, through and through. Your dad sounds wonderful, and your cooking looks mouthwatering.
    A fantasy is not complete without a good stew and a nice beer (or ale or mead). When a story (at least once in a while) describes a meal it becomes more real for me. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! Yes, my dad was a pretty great guy. I sure miss him. And I agree about having a nice beer or mead – or in my case, red wine! – to top off a good fantasy tale. I love any story that features a good meal so I am with you there!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know it was National Hobbit Day either, so don’t feel bad. Wow, that soup looks amazing, and perfect for the fall. I bet this would be good on St. Patrick’s Day, too, what with the potatoes and Guinness. But i’ll eat it now happily. Great recipe and I agree that Lord of the Rings are amazing books, some of my favorite. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just love The Lord of the Rings, and your recipe using my harvest of potatoes is perfect, It’s going to be what’s for dinner tonight.. Thank you ever so much and the movie will of course be The Lord of the Rings.. So excited for cooking and movie time.. many many hugs for this delightful idea… My potatoes also thank you as well….

    Take care, Laura 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Vanessa, I’ll do that and also plan on posting your link into my post when I make the potato dish.. So, other folks can also enjoy the things you do with your blog… I love spreading good things around and wait to see what grows from it.. Growing is not just for the garden, wink …

        Laura 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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