Wednesday 9 November 2022

Mrs Beeton's Nourishing Soup for the Poor

Mrs Beeton (of Household Management fame) used to make soup for the poor in her copper (an early washing machine with a fire in the base). It held several gallons, into which she poured half a pound of sugar,  half a pound of salt, and stale bread. The rest consisted of bones and meat scraps, rice, and root and green vegetables. If the soup was destined for the middle-class dinner table, she pushed it through a sieve.



An ox-cheek, any pieces of trimmings of beef, which may be bought very cheaply (say 4 lbs.), a few bones, any pot-liquor the larder may furnish, 1/4 peck of onions, 6 leeks, a large bunch of herbs, 1/2 lb. of celery (the outside pieces, or green tops, do very well); 1/2 lb. of carrots, 1/2 lb. of turnips, 1/2 lb. of coarse brown sugar, 1/2 a pint of beer, 4 lbs. of common rice, or pearl barley; 1/2 lb. of salt, 1 oz. of black pepper, a few raspings, 10 gallons of water.

Mode: Cut up the meat in small pieces, break the bones, put them in a copper, with the 10 gallons of water, and stew for 1/2 an hour. Cut up the vegetables, put them in with the sugar and beer, and boil for 4 hours. Two hours before the soup is wanted, add the rice and raspings, and keep stirring till it is well mixed in the soup, which simmer gently. If the liquor reduces too much, fill up with water.

Time: 6-1/2 hours. Average cost, 1-1/2d per quart. (That's a penny-halfpenny.)

Note: The above recipe was used in the winter of 1858 by the Editress, who made, each week, in her copper, 8 or 9 gallons of this soup, for distribution amongst about a dozen families of the village near which she lives. The cost, as will be seen, was not great; but she has reason to believe that the soup was very much liked, and gave to the members of those families, a dish of warm, comforting food, in place of the cold meat and piece of bread which form, with too many cottagers, their usual meal, when, with a little more knowledge of the "cooking" art, they might have, for less expense, a warm dish, every day.(The “raspings” were browned breadcrumbs. And she really does say “half a pound of salt”.)

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