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History Cookbook: Vegetable Pottage

This recipe is in categories Main courses, Soups and Sauces, Tudors, Vegetarian
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  • Pottage 2
    Pottage 2
About this recipe
Healthiness : (1202 votes)
Difficulty:  2 out of 5 difficulty
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People ate a lot of pottage throughout the ages, since they had first made cooking pots that would withstand heat. In Tudor times, it was still the main part of an ordinary person's diet. It is basically a vegetable soup, flavoured with herbs and thickened with oats. 

The ordinary people would not have been able to afford much meat, so would rely on this soup as their staple diet with bread and cheese. Occasionally meat bones or fish would be added when available.

The pottage would have been made with whatever vegetables were in season. However, dried vegetables such as peas and beans were often served in Lent; by which time the winter food stocks were very low. This helped people survive until early spring produce (nettle tips, ground elder and spring greens) began to grow.

In the past, it was considered that the thicker the soup, the better the quality of the pottage.

For pictures of the cooking process see our Vegetable Pottage Picture Gallery.

With thanks to Cathy Flower-Bond (Tudor Tales) and the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum for their help with making this podcast.

  • 1 onion
  • 2 leeks             
  • 1 or 2 parsnips
  • spinach
  • herbs from the garden (eg parsley, rosemary and thyme)
  • butter
  • stock
  • seasoning (salt and peppercorns)
  • Large cooking pot
  • Knife for peeling and chopping the vegetables
  • Chopping board
  • Wooden spoons for stirring and serving
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  • Peel the onion, roughly slice and chop
  • Top and tail the leeks and parsnip, peel the outer skins and roughly chop
  • Roughly chop some spinach
  • Warm a pot by the fire
  • Add some butter (enough to soften the onions) and add the onions to the pot
  • Allow to soften for a few minutes, then add the chopped leeks and parsnips
  • Allow the vegetables to sweat for a few minutes then cover them with the stock
  • Add the spinach
  • Allow to cook  until the vegetables are ready, then add the garden herbs
  • Leave for a few minutes, add the seasoning (salt and peppercorns), then remove the pot from the hearth and serve
Vegetable Pottage - print view  Vegetable Pottage - print view

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There are 28 comments for this recipe.
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Name: Kir 30th July 2019
Made this out of curiosity not expecting much - it's surprisingly delicious and hearty, and I will definitely be making it again. (I added 50g of porridge oats to thicken and a teaspoon of marmite for some body)
Name: Kitty 4th October 2017
it helped me with my Tudor homework for school thanks for the recipe
Name: Julie Hinsley 14th July 2017
Portage was also thickened with porridge oats works well
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