With Valentine’s Day looming, the pressure mounts in the top restaurant kitchens across the nation. For many chefs it is one of the most nerve-racking nights of the year. A restaurant full of tables of two, all with different expectations, but almost all high expectations of the gastronomic experience of the evening.

Champagne cocktails to start, raise the levels of excitement. Exotic food such as oysters and lobster raise the bar. If the chef messes up and doesn’t produce great food on time and with enough calories to counter the possible effects of the delicious wine, a night full of promise can quickly lead to quarrels and tears.

The late, great , Andrew Fairlie, Scotland’s 2* Michelin Chef, never lost control of his restaurant. Whether on Valentine’s night or any other special evening he and his personally trained team always provided exceptional food, wine and service to surpass all expectations. A true professional, any evening spent in his eponymous restaurant in Gleneagles Hotel, delivered all the magic and romance his diners anticipated.

Andrew was the leading light in Scotland’s Culinary Resurgence. Since leaving school he worked with vision and professionalism to learn his craft and shine a light on the wealth of Scotland’s Larder. He gave us pride in our food.

As well as his love of his family, his chefs and customers, Andrew was a passionate follower of Celtic. This is my ‘Celtic Soup’.

To Andrew. Thank you.

‘Celtic Soup’

50g unsalted butter

3 shallots or one medium onion

4 stocks celery

2 medium potatoes

1 small white turnip, washed and peeled, left whole

1 litre boiling water

250g bag fresh or frozen spinach

a good handful finely chopped flat leaf parsley

sea salt and black pepper

lemon juice


double cream or crème fraiche

Peel and chop the shallots, celery and potatoes.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the shallots and celery.

Sauté on a low heat for 5-10 minutes until softened.

Add the potatoes, the turnip, and cover with boiling water. Simmer until the potatoes have softened.

Remove and discard the turnip, add the spinach and chopped parsley and simmer, but don’t boil, for 10 minutes.

Use a blender to make the soup smooth, bring back to the boil and add some more water if it is too thick.

Season to taste and add a squeeze of lemon juice and a grating of nutmeg to lift the flavour.

Serve with a blob of fresh cream or crème fraîche …or if you’re a Celtic supporter like Andrew, drizzle the cream across the soup to draw the team’s shirt’s iconic ‘hoops’.