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History Cookbook: Pottage - a vegetable soup

About this recipe
Healthiness : (182 votes)
Comments: Although this is basically an easy dish to make, the preparation of the vegetables is the main work and care needs to be taken using a sharp knife.
Preparation Time: 20-30 mins
Cooking Time: 30 - 40 mins
Number of servings: 4
Serving suggestions: Sprinkle with grated cheese and eat with fresh wholemeal bread.
This is a vegetarian recipe


The ordinary people ate a lot of pottage in Medieval Britain. It is a vegetable soup, flavoured with herbs and thickened with oats. It is very nutritious, although vegetables were not thought to be so in the Middle Ages. In fact, the word vegetable was not used; all green things were herbs. The root vegetables were considered only fit for the common folk and were not eaten by the wealthy.

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.

The vegetables in the soup would depend upon what the people had grown and what time of year it was. The amounts of vegetables would also vary according to taste.

Often the soup was made with only a few of the possible ingredients with one vegetable dominating eg cabbage pottage and leek pottage were great favourites.

So, when you make it, you too can choose what vegetables and how much of each to put in - and also what your favourite herbs are to flavour it with.

The ordinary people would not have had salt etc so the herbs are important.

It is surprisingly delicious!

Ingredients
1 litre of water (adding some vegetable stock powder or cube makes it tastier).

Choose a selection of the following vegetables (about 250g of each will do):
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • celery
  • green beans
  • leeks
  • onions
  • parsnips
  • sorrel
  • turnips
  • garlic was also grown, but you don't need 250g - one or two cloves will do

A selection of fresh herbs (to be authentic, though dried will do) chosen from:
  • basil
  • marjoram
  • parsley
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • thyme
  • 2tbs oats (porridge oats)
Equipment
  • Chopping board
  • Peeler
  • Knife
  • Weighing scales
  • Measuring jug
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  1. Wash and prepare the vegetables - eg taking off outer skins etc
  2. Chop the vegetables and the herbs
  3. Put them all into the stock
  4. Bring the soup to the boil
  5. Turn down the heat and simmer until vegetables are cooked
  6. Add enough oats to thicken and simmer again until cooked
  7. You may enjoy it better with a little salt and pepper
Pottage - a vegetable soup - print view  Pottage - a vegetable soup - print view

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Comments
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Name: Jeremy Hunter 27th September 2014
Steve, as the recipe does not call for "orange carrots", but just "carrots", the recipe is not wrong. Your complaint is the demonstrative photo, which is of chopped vegetables that includes a carrot which, since the only carrots available nowadays are orange, was orange. If this is your complaint, maybe you would be better complaining at the fact this recipe is "wrong" because it includes a photo, cameras of course not existing in the mediaeval period.

In the mean time, going to try this tomorrow. Coming up to autumn and all that!
Name: Steven 20th August 2014
This Recipe is incorrect - Carrots were not known in the orange form we know today, but were smaller and purple until the 16th century.

Green Beans were a new world vegetable.

The inclusion of peas would also make it more accurate.
Name: Random 4th August 2014
Helped heaps
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