Monday, 4 July 2011

The soup of the insane

It was a coincidence - or a demonstration of how I really need to tidy up more - that just as I was reading The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England I moved the microwave to clean behind it and found a sheet of medieval recipes.

We'd picked them up on holiday during a visit to Beaumaris Castle when the whole castle had been taken over by medieval re-enactors. It was a lovely day (they're doing it again this year if you're in the area) when we sat in the sunshire watching the sword-swallowers, jugglers, dancers and firebreathers who entertained us between swordfights.

As we wandered around, a woman on a stall called The Unfound Door handed each of the Lattes a cup of plain cabbage soup, which they not only ate but actually claimed to enjoy.

Naturally we took a recipe sheet. Naturally it fell down the back of the microwave.

Caboches in Potage requires you shred one head of cabbage, 2-3 leeks, 2-4 cups of stock, two onions, and one-eighth of a teaspoon each of ground cardamom and coriander. You can add salt, but since I was using bought stock I had enough salt already. (I never use salt in cooking, except to bake bread.)

I used half a head of leftover white cabbage, and some assorted odd greens that had appeared in a bag from my mother's friend's allotment. I don't know what they were. I assume they were cabbage-ish.

And then you just shove it in a pot, bring it to the boil and simmer for 5-20 minutes, depending on quite how much help your eldest daughter needs with her homework before lunch. There's no faffing about with sweating your onions in the Middle Ages.

Did you think it was going to be horrible? It wasn't. It was very nice, and thankfully I had resisted my 21st-century temptation to chuck in just a bit more coriander, because an eighth of a teaspoon didn't seem like much. There was only one problem.

A note appeared on the chalkboard. It read 'mad soop' and was violently crossed out. Littlest pointed at it, frowning.

(When Littlest was small, I would pick her up from nursery and prattle brightly about  the yummy soup or salad we would be eating for lunch. Solemn eyes would meet mine in the rear view mirror. "No sayad," the child would growl. "No soop.")

"I do not want to eat the mad evil soup," Littlest decided, and no amount of spelling 'medieval' on a bit of paper and talking about knights on horseback was going to convince her otherwise. The mad evil soup remained untouched. (Eldest ate two bowls.)

There are a couple more recipes I'd like to try - so it will be interesting to see if we get the same reaction to a Mad Evil Pudding. Watch this space.

(Winners of my Kung Fu Panda giveaway are magsmcc, David, Pennie and Blatherskite. Congratulations - but if I haven't contacted you by lunchtime that probably means I don't have a contact for you. Let me have one).


  1. I was thinking, just yesterday, that I wanted soup but couldn't quite make up my mind what sort to make. You have helped enormously and I shall get those ingredients later on. On the subject of 'mad evil' soup, I am reminded that, as a child, when we had Carnation evaporated milk on tinned pears for tea, I always called it 'poisonous milk' - I have no recollection of my reasoning...

    I am giggling now, the word verification is - mushobs

  2. You've taken me right back now with your evaporated milk. But with peaches. And it could well have been poisonous...

  3. Mad evil soup - most excellent. Apparently our menu on Saturday night included "pees". Care to join us for dinner one day?

  4. Hahaha! I'm so delighted there's another family with a child who won't eat salad or soup (or in our case anything interesting). Perhaps in this house making it mad and evil would make it more appealing.

  5. Oh, planetcoops - you are not alone. I used to be so smug that Toddler Littlest would eat all kinds of things. And then everything changed...

  6. Mad Evil Soup made me laugh and laugh. You should patent that.

  7. Well, at least she uses intelligible speech. Mine groan, roll eyes (behind my back - but I can hear the rolling!), and clunk their heads on the table.
    And that's just on seeing boiled potatoes. 'Rice!', they go, 'rice!'. I obviously went wrong somewhere.

    *I* like the sound of your soup though! Any leftovers?

  8. Rice, you say, Jannette? If I gave them kedgeree for every meal, we'd be laughing.

  9. I have just eaten a bowl of this most excellent 'mad soop' and can confirm that it is delicious. I didn't get leeks (I forgot) but used spring onions instead. I loved the spicing of it all.

  10. Wow - I'm so impressed that you went and made it! I feel all-powerful now. And I'm so glad you didn't spit it out and blame me.

  11. Wow, I made someone feel powerful! I might just have to have another bowl of the soup since the weather has turned drizzly and sad looking. I don't use spices enough when I cook and even when I do, I am very timid and don't use enough. I should remedy this.

  12. I was beginning to wonder how old your microwave was! I'd have been tempted to add a dollop of cream or yoghurt and whizz it up in the blender. Bet you could freeze it then and bring it out another day to torment the little dears

  13. InvisibleWoman - a medieval microwave? You're not going to find THAT at a car boot!

    I don't know why, but it didn't seem to invite yogurt. I froze the leftovers as they were.

  14. mad evil.

    that is just brilliant. what an accurate assessment of a whole historic period!

    Trust kids.

    (although the soup looks good)

  15. I'm always doing that, but I tend to find things in the middle of books or behind the sofa.

    The soup looks fab and at least your eldest made up with two helpings.

    Nina xxx

  16. I giggled so much reading this post that my husband actually took his eyes off the baseball game to ask what i was laughing about. Loved it! Loved the bit about the recipe falling behind the microwave - dread to think what's building up behind ours and loved the reference to mad evil. Awesome!

  17. ps Thought I'd better add that I found your blog through BritMums. I just joined the other day and am pretty new to all this blogging. I've really enjoyed reading your posts.


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