Fennel and Leek Soup or About the aforementioned.


So I was looking for medieval recipes (if I am going to cook with a cook book anyway…) for vegetables to use up some greens I had going off. I found this cute recipe below and since it called for cheap ingredients I already had in the fridge I decided to experiment with it.

I love that it calls for the fennel bulb not the leaves, since it is much easier to get the bulb here.

Anyone who cooks a fast soup knows about softening veggies before adding a broth. I wondered what adding water instead of broth would be like. I also wondered what frying fennel in lard would be like.

My daughter declares it “good” and that “it tastes like pho” which is her highest compliment. I think the flavours worked together and it would be even better as a campfire dish–which I will try at my next opportunity.

I think this was a dish meant for an invalid or for maybe winter. I am just tired and the air conditioner is set too high.


 Take white fennel minced finely, and then fry it with a little of the white part of a leek minced finely, with egg or lard, and put in a bit of water and saffron and salt, and boil it, and put in beaten eggs, if you want. Anonimo Toscano, Libro della Cocina (late 14th or early 15th c.)  Ariane Helou’s translation

* 1 heaping tbsp lard **
* 1/3 cup leek, a few inches of the white end, minced
* 1 cup fennel, white from the bulb end, minced
* 2 cups water
* 1 pinch saffron
* 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 egg, beaten


  1. Heat frying pan on medium-high, add lard to melt.
  2. Add fennel and leek, reduce heat to medium low, and stir to soften veggies.
  3. Pour fennel mixture into a sauce pan, add water and salt. Heat sauce pan on medium-high until mixture comes to boil.
  4. Add beaten egg into fennel mixture while stirring. Bring to boil a second time, then remove from heat.
  5. Serve hot***.

** Use vegetable lard or olive oil if making for a vegetarian. 

*** and with rice noodles if you want to take the pho thing a little too far. 


Meatballs in Broth or “Another Sort Of Dressed veal”


So this recipe could be a meatball soup, given the amount of broth required to cover the meatballs is more than one would use as a sauce. It is strongly flavoured though, so I would serve it with sops (bread slices) if you were doing that. Otherwise it is a wonderful lemon bite around the delicately flavoured veal (*cough* bland *cough*).

My friend Diane would love this.

Veal was on sale so tomorrow I will be making a veal pie.


Another sort of dressed veal.
Take the meat so as to have made ham all as trimmed, & make round balls or strips like little sausages, & put them to stew in good broth, & a salted lemon cut in strips, mint, marjoram therein, a little verjuice or wine, & put them to stew well, & serve as such. (France, 1604 – Daniel Myers, trans. Ouverture de Cuisine)


  • 1lb ground veal
  • salt
  • 1.5 liters of bone broth
  • 1 salted lemon
  • 1 branch each mint, marjoram
  • 1/3 cup verjuice (or wine)


  1. Salt the veal to taste and then form into balls ~1 oz, you should get 15-16 balls from 1 lb of veal.
  2. Pour broth into a sauce pan and add the rest of the ingredients then bring to boil on high.
  3. Drop meatballs into boiling broth and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer balls for 7 minutes.
  4. Serve balls with broth (and sops). (My family added more salt)

Cabbage with Beef Marrow now for less than $66!


So I heard on cbc radio that Neiman Marcus was selling frozen collard greens for $66. Well if brassica is the new trendy food I could totally blog about that! Send me the royalty cheques!

It turns out I already have blogged about wortes before so I can’t nerd about about those collard green recipes again, bringing down the Neiman Marcus coolness factor like only a history nerd can.

However I have a head of cabbage so I move forward. The following recipe is a lovely, calorically dense, winter cabbage stew.

It is flavoured with marrow which is cooked to release it from the bones in the broth. Beef marrow is very creamy and has a deep, earthy flavour rather than the sharp, salty notes of bacon fat, or butter. You can get beef bones from your local artisanal butcher or in the frozen meat section of a low end grocery store and lots of places in between.

This recipe calls for parboiling the cabbage and draining it really well before cooking it in the broth. This would mean that the strong cabbage flavour won’t overwhelm the dish. It also shrinks the leaves before trying to fit other things into a full pot.


Caboges. Take fayre caboges, an cutte hem, an pike hem clene and clene washe hem, an parboyle hem in fayre water, an thanne presse hem on a fayre bord; an than choppe hem, and caste hem in a faire pot with goode freysshe broth, an wyth mery-bonys, and let it boyle: thanne grate fayre brede and caste ther-to, an caste ther-to Safron an salt; or ellys take gode grwel y-mad of freys flesshe, y-draw thorw a straynour, and caste ther-to. An whan thou seruyst yt inne, knocke owt the marw of the bonys, an ley the marwe .ij. gobettys or .iij. in a dysshe, as the semyth best, and serue forth. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (1430)


  • Head of cabbage, cored and sliced into large pieces
  • 8 cups of broth (any kind)
  • 4 beef bones with marrow intact
  • 2 cups dry bread crumbs, or leftover oatmeal made with beef broth
  • pinch of saffron
  • salt to taste


  1. Place cabbage pieces into a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil on a high heat. Remove pot from heat and strain cabbage. Rinse with cold water and then press the water out of the leaves by hand. Chop cabbage into bite sized pieces and return to pot.
  2. Cover cabbage pieces with broth, then add bones. Cover pot and bring to boil on a high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer until marrow is soft, and almost falling out of the bone, approximately 1 hour.
  3. Remove bones from pot and slide out the marrow using a butter knife. Set marrow aside.
  4. Add saffron, salt and breadcrumbs to cabbage mixture. While stirring gently, let mixture simmer for 5 to 10 minutes on medium-low heat, until thickened.
  5. Serve cabbage stew hot, with a garnish of marrow, dividing the marrow among the servings.


Beans as Thickner


As you might have read on my last post I got really excited about a 14th century recipe for bean thickened pancakes, maybe Aquafava thickened pancakes. I found a few other recipes that use beans for thickeners. The pancakes do not taste ‘beany’ and are fluffier than I thought they’d be.

We have the pancake recipe, but we also have a fritter, a stew and a tart. A good selection of cases where eggs are commonly used to thicken recipes.

One of the other thickeners I’ve learned about is blood. I might leave off doing that selection of recipe creations until Halloween.

Bean Pancakes
Take white chickpeas, well softened in water; boil them well, then take them out of the water, minced finely and mix them with said water, and strain them; and with this strained water dilute the flour as you like and fry it on a low fire with lard and oil, and put some honey on top.

Another preparation.  Dilute the flour with eggs, then make some gloves or other shape, as you like: set them to cook well in a pan with hot lard or oil.An Anonymous Tuscan Cookery Book

* 1 cup of dried chickpeas (or 5-6 eggs) (modern: 1.5 cups of aquafaba)
* 1 cup of chickpea flour
* 1/4-1/2 cup lard (or vegan shortening) for frying
* 1/4 cup of honey, to taste

1) One cup of dried chickpeas will grow to about 2 1/2 cups. Soften chickpeas in water overnight. Strain chickpeas and discard the soaking water. Bring chickpeas to boil in enough water to cover, then reduce to simmer for ~1 hour. Start checking the chickpea progress at about 35-40 minute. The chickpeas have to be soft.
2) Take cooked chickpeas and reserve cooking liquid. Chop up chickpeas roughly, removing loose skins as you go. Pour chickpea meat back into chickpea cooking water. Strain the chickpeas out using a strainer, this should take care of the rest of the chickpea skins and give you a nice chickpea milk. Strain the liquid through the chickpea mash a few times to try to get as much chickpea slurry as possible. This results in about 1/5 cups of liquid, and is very labour intensive.
3) Mix one cup of flour with ~1.5 cups of chickpea milk depending on what sort of consistency you want.
4) Heat your frying pan to medium. Fry batter in small batches in lard or bacon fat until both sides are golden brown.
5) Serve hot, covered in honey.

Bean Tart
Take the beans and cook them with pork belly, then paste the beans in a mortar and the belly with a knife (chop fine), then put the best spices that you may have and put in much cheese that it is half or less a third of the batter, and mix old lard and make the tart and it is most perfect. Libro di cucina / Libro per cuoco
* 2 cups fresh  fava beans, shelled (or 1 cup of dried fava beans softened)
* 1/2 cup pork belly, browned by frying
* 1 cup gouda cheese, grated
* ½ tsp ground cinnamon
* 1/2 tsp ginger
* salt & pepper to taste
* 1 tsp bacon fat
* 1 pie crust
1) Cover beans with water in a saucepan, add pork belly. Bring to boil and then reduce to a low simmer for 5 minutes, until beans are soft.
2) Once beans are soft strain and remove whats left of the pork belly. Chop pork belly into small pieces.
3) Grind beans into a paste in mortar and pestle removing skins as they slide off.
4) Preheat oven to 350° F.
5) Mix bean paste, shredded cheese, spices and bacon fat together. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake for 50 minutes, until middle sets and shell is browned.
6) Let tart sit for 10 min before cutting.

Bean Stew
Boil till they split, then take plenty of parsley and a little sage and hyssop, and grind very fine; and after this grind up some bread, and a handful of these same beans which should be peeled and ground with the bread for thickening, then put through a sieve: then fry the rest of your beans in bacon fat, if this is a meat day, or in oil or butter, if this is a fish day; then put your beans in meat stock, if this is a meat day, or in the water from the beans, if this is a fish day.
 Le Menagier de Paris

* 2 branches of parsley, stems removed
* 1 branch of sage, stems removed
* 1 branch of hyssop, stems removed
*1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
* 2 cups cooked large fava beans
* 1/4 cup bacon fat (or butter), for cooking
* 4 cups broth (or 4 cups liquid from cooking beans)

1) Take herbs and grind them into a paste in a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
2) Take bread crumbs and 1/2 cup of the cooked beans, that have been peeled, and grind them together. Add cooking liquid of broth to smooth them out and run mixture through a sieve. Set aside.
3) Heat a frying pan to medium, add cooking fat and the rest of the beans, and brown them for ten minutes, stirring constantly.
4) In a large sauce pan add broth, ground herbs, crushed bean mixture, and fried beans with the cooking fat. Heat sauce pan on medium-low for 30 minutes, stirring often, until flavours combine. (Might need to add salt if broth isn’t salted.)

Bean Fritters
Get enough broad-bean paste for the size of fritter you want to make, and get chervil, a little sage, chopped figs, apples, mint and parsley, mix everything together and fry it in good oil; remove it onto a round platter with fine spices on top. The Neapolitan recipe collection

* 1 cup of broad beans, cooked, peeled, and mashed into a paste
* 4 leaves of chervil (French parsley), minced
*  2 leaves of sage, minced
* 3 figs, chopped small
* 3 leaves mint, minced
* 4 leaves parsley, minced
* oil for frying
* cinnamon and ginger for garnish

  1. Mix everything together. The dough should be on the stiff side. Make small patties, or balls with the mixture.
  2. Heat a frying pan on medium, and add fat for frying. Drop patties into oil and fry on each side until fritters are browned.
  3. Lightly garnish with spices and serve.



Wortes, wortys, or longwortes, are all leafy greens, on purpose herbs or invasive weeds. The cultivated brassica includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, savoy, kohlrabi and kai-lan.

If googling you will find that ‘worts’ are a skin problem that looks like cauliflower. This being said there are no longer any cauliflower recipes in this blog.

Buttered Wortes.
Take all manner of good herbs that thou may gete, and do to them as is forsaid; put them on the fire with fair water; put there-to clarified butter a great quantity. Whan they been boiled enough, salt them; let none oatmeal come there-in. Dice bread small in dishes, and power on the wortes, and serve them forth. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (1430)

* 8 cups of mixed leafy greens and herbs, like spinach, collard greens, brassica leaves, dandelion, parsley, etc, washed, stems removed
* 4 dinner rolls cut into quarters
* 1/4 cup of clarified butter
* Salt to taste

1) Put a large pot of water on to boil. Submerge the greens into the water along with the butter. Bring the greens to boil.

2) Put the rolls into four different bowls and divide the wilted greens on top of them. Add salt to taste and serve.

Another Broth with Longwortes.
Take mutton and fair water, and let them boil upon the fire and then take lettuce or spinach, and put thereto, and if lyst to boil therewith two or three chickens, and put thereto salt and verjuice after your discretion, and serve them forth, the flesh under, the herbes above. A Proper newe Booke of Cokerye (mid-16th c.)

* 1 leg of mutton, or mutton bone
* 8 cups of Spinach (or lettuce), washed, stems removed
* 2 small chickens, quartered
* 2 tbsp salt
* 1/2 verjuice

1) Put mutton leg, or stewing bone, into a large pot and cover with water. Bring pot to boil and then reduce to simmer for 1 hour.

2) Add spinach, chicken pieces, salt and verjuice. Simmer chickens until they reach 165°F and the joints are easily broken apart, approximately 40 minutes.

3) Arrange the cooked chicken pieces on plates and cover with the cooked herbs.


Pompions and Squash Soup


Halloween is Friday. Some of us might be struggling to use the left overs from carved pumpkin decorations in medieval flavoured recipes.

Henry Butte’s describes ‘pompions’ in Dyets Dry Dinner, 1599. He uses the Latin: Melones seu Melopepones, to clarify which fruit he was discussing, which is not the modern pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo or Cucurbita maxima), nor is it proper Latin for any thing else. It gives one hope, or plausible deniability, if you want to go forward, but not good scholarship.

Winter squashes and gourds (family Cucurbita) appear in art and in recipes in many places pre-1600, even though they were seemingly all brought to England from the new world. A lot of recipes for one type of new world squash work with a different brightly coloured, starchy vegetable.

Here are 3 recipes, only slightly different, for you to try.
Gourdes In Pottage.
Take young Gowrdes pare hem and kerue hem on pecys. cast hem in gode broth, and do þer to a gode pertye of Oynouns mynced. takePork soden. grynd it and alye it þer with and wiþ zolkes of ayrenn. do þer to safroun and salt, and messe it forth with powdour douce. Forme of Cury 1390


  • 4 cups winter squash, peeled, and cubed
  • 8 cups broth made from beef or pork bones
  • 1 cup onions, chopped fine
  • 1 cup ground pork, made into meat balls
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 0.5 tsp cinnamon, powdered
  • 0.5 tsp ginger, powdered
  • 0. tsp pepper, powdered


  1. Bring sauce pan to medium heat, add squash, broth, and onions. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat, and add pork balls, saffron, and salt, to simmer until squash is soft and meat is cooked.
  3. Remove 1/2 cup of the squash mixture and add the two egg yolks to this smaller portion, mixing well. Pour egg mixture into larger squash soup, stirring well. Simmer until soup thickens.
  4. Mix cinnamon, ginger and pepper together and garnish soup.
  5. Serve hot.

Pottage Of Gourds
Potage of gouidys. Take yonge gourdys, and pare hom clene, and wash hom in hote watur, when thai byn cut on peces, and do hom in a pot, and do therto godebroth, and mynfe onyons and do therto, and let hom seth ; then take soden porke and grynde hit final, and tempur it with rawe yokes of eyren, and put hit to the potage, and colour hit wyth saffron and serve hit forthe, and caste thereon pouder douce. Ancient Cookery, 1425


  • 4 cups winter squash, peeled, and cubed
  • 8 cups broth made from beef or pork bones
  • 1 cup onions, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup chopped bacon, cooked crispy
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 0.5 tsp cinnamon, powdered
  • 0.5 tsp ginger, powdered
  • 0. tsp pepper, powdered


  1. Bring sauce pan to medium heat, add squash, broth, and onions. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat, and bacon bits to simmer until squash is soft.
  3. Remove 1/2 cup of the squash mixture and add the two egg yolks to this smaller portion, mixing well. Pour egg mixture into larger squash soup, stirring well. Simmer until soup thickens.
  4. Mix spices together and garnish soup.
  5. Serve hot.

Gourd Soup
Gourd…Eat it with pepper, mustard, vinegar, or hot herbs, as onions and parsley.” Henry Buttes 1599


  • 4 cups winter squash, peeled, and cubed
  • 8 cups broth made from beef bones, including marrow
  • 1 cup onions, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 0.5 tsp pepper, powdered
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Bring sauce pan to medium heat, add squash, broth, onions, parsley, vinegar, pepper and salt. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat, and simmer until squash is soft.
  3. Cream ingredients together.
  4. Serve hot.

Bean Soup


Its a dreary, rainy, all day here in Ottawa. Hearty soup is just the thing to warm a body from the inside out. The trick with soup is adding enough fat, and giving the flavours the leisure time to blend together.

These 3 recipes can be made in a crockpot the day of feast. Soup is also a super easy campfire recipe.

You can make your own broth using veggies or beef bones. I like the flavour of the beef marrow more than any package broth. If you are using marrow bones for the broth omit the butter because marrow is fatty enough.

Galen’s recipe should be used with fava beans, or possibly chickpeas. Rumpolt in 1581 probably had access to a wide range of new world beans to flavour his soup.

3rd Century: Bean Soup

“Another preparation in the style of Treviso. Put boiled beans, shelled, to cook with salted meat, and with pepper and saffron.” 
Galen (AD 129 – 216)


  • 1 cup of salted pork belly (or fat back), coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (19 oz) fava beans
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat soup pot on medium high, add pork when pot is hot and lightly brown the pieces of meat.
  2. Cover the pork with 4 cups of water.
  3. Add rest of ingredients, bring to boil and then reduce to simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Serve hot.

16th Century: Simple Ginger & Bean Soup

Roman beans you can prepare on a meat day/ shells included with a beef broth/ ginger and butter. But if it is on a fast day/so cook it with peabroth/ pepper and butter so they become lovely and good. “ Marx Rumpolt, 1581


  • 4 cups beef broth (or veggie broth)
  • 2 cans of beans (19 oz. each), drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoon butter (or marrow)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat soup pot on medium high. Put all ingredients in pot, stir.
  2. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer. Simmer soup for 20 minutes.
  3. Serve hot.

16 Century: Beans season with bacon and  herbs

“Beans cooked with beef broth and bacon/ that is cut small also with green well tasting herbs/ that are chopped small.” Marx Rumpolt, 1581


  • 2 strips of bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 4 cups beef broth (or veggie broth)
  • 2 cans of beans (19 oz. each), drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups herbs finally chopped (spinach, chard, parsley, rosemary, mint, basil, etc)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat soup pot on medium high, add bacon when pot is hot and lightly brown the pieces of meat.
  2. Put all ingredients in pot, stir.
  3. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer. Simmer soup for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve hot.