Grape Harvester’s Soup

Last weekend we picked my father-in-law up in Cuero and drove him to San Antonio to Do Something Fun For A Change. While Cuero (Turkeyfest Capitol of the World) is certainly a thriving metropolis in its own way, I thought Dad was a bit bored with small town life, so we went to the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the Witte Museum, which I recommend highly. Worth the drive from Austin if you’re planning a fun SA day trip.

What I was looking forward to more than anything, though, was going back to the Liberty Bar, which wins the Wine Scamp prize of Most Interesting Food That I Can Mostly Afford In San Antonio, as well as Least Plumb Building. It’s tough to get both prizes in the same restaurant, let me tell you.

I ordered the Grape Harvester’s Soup for a starter, the Cold Roast Lamb Plate for lunch, and their apple pie for dessert. The pie was tasty, though inexplicably contained raisins, but the crust was on the doughy side and the apples were kind of crunchy. Still.

The soup took me by surprise, I will say. It most resembled this recipe from Olney than any other recipe I’ve found online. I had no idea of what to expect, except that the server said it had tomatoes and onions, grape juice and wine. The first two were perfectly evident, though not the last to – this tasted more like a tomato-based onion soup than anything. It was good, but I won’t be dreaming of it for weeks, per se.

What made me wonder about this version of the soup was: apart from tomatoes and onions arguably being in season when grapes are harvested, why would this be a traditional dish for farm workers? It’s very light, and doesn’t seem like the kind of dish I’d be looking forward to after a long day of stooping, picking, and hauling. Most other recipes on the Interweb include stewing beef, making the soup more hearty. But Richard Olney was well-known for his traditionalist French cuisine, right?

Have you ever had Olney’s grape harvester’s soup? Do you know anything about its history? I’m terribly curious!

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