It’s been a long winter, even for people like me who like to frolic on the slopes. Yesterday felt spring-like but based on the forecast, winter still hasn’t quite lost its grip on upstate New York.

One thing that makes it easier to deal with the cold and damp is soup. Although I’ve always liked soup in restaurants, I didn’t get serious about making it myself until last year, when I bought a French Market bean soup mix at a fundraising event. The first time I made it, I used the entire container of beans rather than two cups as stated in the recipe, and produced a rather ugly sludge. But it was delicious sludge and the next time I tried, it looked better and was still tasty and comforting, as soup should be.

Another recent (and successful) experiment was Butternut Squash and Pear Soup from The Gracious Bowl, which I served to my local writing buddies at a retreat. It has ginger and curry in it—yum! Then after enjoying soup at another writer buddy gathering, I decided to get The Daily Soup Cookbook, by Leslie Kaul and others. I’m looking forward to trying their Wild Mushroom Barley with Chicken, Moroccon Chicken Curry with Couscous and Tuscan Shrimp and White Bean and many others.

I haven’t tried any Regency era recipes yet. The Jane Austen Cookbook, by Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye, lists several: a Curry Soup which sounds yummy, a Summer Pease Soup (with cucumbers and mint, which sounds nice but I know my husband will not eat) and White Soup, in the section on “Assemblies and Suppers”. I’ve seen white soup mentioned in novels before, but did not know what it was. First one makes a chicken stock using chicken, bacon, rice, peppercorns, onions, anchovies, herbs and celery. The next day, ground almonds and egg yolk are added to the stock. This doesn’t sound like a very substantial soup, but that makes sense if it’s just a part of a supper.

I suspect many of the soups served at the tables of the wealthy were not the full meal soups I like to make at home. But there were definitely some more hearty soups, like oxtail soup.

One soup that was the height of fashion during the Regency which I will definitely never attempt is Turtle Soup. I doubt I’d try Mock Turtle Soup either, even the versions not involving a calf’s head!

You can find more historical information at “An Appreciation of British Soups” at British Food in America.

The Daily Soup says “You rarely hear anyone emphatically say, ‘I don’t like soup’, and the person who does cannot be trusted”. So I won’t ask if you like soup! I’ll only ask what are your favorites? Have you ever tried any historical recipes? How did they turn out?


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Barbara Monajem
11 years ago

I’ll answer anyway — I love soup! I don’t usually use recipes — I just throw some stock and veggies in the pot and see what happens.

I also love trying historical recipes and even bought a small kitchen scale for the purpose. Last night I tried a recipe from Mrs. Beeton’s cookbook (Victorian, not Regency) for a rich apple pudding, thinking I would blog about it soon. It was a little eggy, but otherwise delicious. I think maybe the eggs Mrs. Beeton used were smaller than the ones we buy nowadays… Unfortunately, I forgot to convert my weighed ingredients into cups, so I’ll have to make it again. And eat it again. Such sacrifices one makes. 🙂

Isobel Carr
11 years ago

I made bear stew for a 16th century event once, does that count?

And yes, I’ve made a lot of period recipes. In fact, I’m going to be giving the Regency Kicksaw workshop again in NY for The Beau Monde.

There are several things I make all the time now that I learned for that workshop: Rout Cakes (amazing little cookies), Quaking Pudding (this was the biggest hit of everything I tested out), and Lemon Cheesecakes (sort of like period danish).

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

My son says he doesn’t like soup, but I made some bean and ham soup one day and he ate it all, so I guess I can still trust him.

Susanna Fraser
11 years ago

I haven’t tried any historical recipes yet, but I do like soup. I make a quick pasta e fagioli that works well, and sometimes toss in some kale or spinach when I want to feel virtuous and well-nourished. I love the classic quick comfort meal of tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. And the husband and I have a standing disagreement on what constitutes proper chili. In his Oklahoman family, it’s pretty much meat, beer, and chili powder, and you pour it over a bed of Fritos and pile cheese on top of it. It’s tasty, but it doesn’t feel like a real meal to me–I want the tomatoes, the beans, onions, and maybe some peppers.

Elena Greene
11 years ago

Barbara, that apple pudding sounds great. Something to look into next fall when we go apple picking. We always get carried away and bring back too many.

Bear stew definitely counts. And of course the ingredients are readily available…. 🙂 Seriously, I wish I could make the conference this year. The treats at SF were great.

Diane, LOL on your son “not liking” soup. So grown children still go through these phases?

Susanna, I never liked tomato soup until someone introduced me to the combo with grill cheese. Suddenly it made so much sense. As to chili, I love it and have made many kinds, including a great vegetarian one. Every kind of veg, oregano, chili and cumin. Chili over Fritos sounds delicious if not quite as healthy.

11 years ago

Alas, it seems i cannot be trusted. I will eat it if it is served, but I prefer not. I will tolerate tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, but I’m happier with simply the grilled cheese sandwich. I occasionally make a chicken soup made with Ramen noodles, fresh veggies, and canned chicken, when I’m trying to stretch things, but even then, I use as little water or broth as possible. I do like stew.

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

I’m not brave enough to try period recipes, but I do make soup a lot! 🙂 It’s easy even for someone who is not much of a cook (like me) and I can use whatever I have in the kitchen or whatever sounds good to me that day. In fact, I think I need to go start a pot of bean soup for tomorrow…

Elena Greene
11 years ago

Judy, The Daily Soup lists stews as a category of soup. So you’re OK. 🙂

11 years ago

Whew! Thanks, Elena! 😀

11 years ago

One of the best parts of winter is the types of food we tend to enjoy during those cold months. Soups, stews, chili. They just warms you to the bone. I have had turtle soup (just turtle, no calves) and it wasn’t too bad. Have made bear stew also, but it was a long time ago. I have a squash soup recipe and a broccoli cheese soup recipe we love. I don’t usually worry about recipes. Soups are great for just throwing what you have together and having it turn out pretty good.

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