Traditional English Cuisine

 

Soups

 

Soups come in different forms as well as different ingredients. Probably, most are common throughout the English speaking world, though with regional twists. Soups in England are usually eaten with fresh, crusty bread.

 

Broth

 

This is a light, watery soup made of seasoned meat or fish stock and, in the UK, with bits of meat, vegetables and grains – usually barley. The trick is in getting a really tasty stock.

 

 

Pottage

 

Similar, but thicker than a broth. This is the point at which a soup almost becomes a stew. It consists of a variety of, mainly root, vegetables and grain, typically barley, boiled in a stock.

 

 

Vegetable

 

As well as a broth, mixed vegetable soup is commonly pureed and sometimes cream is added.

 

 

Chicken

 

Chicken soup can be just a version of a broth or pottage – with chicken in it. Or it can be ‘cream of chicken’ which is very nice.

 

 

Mushroom

 

Another very tasty soup, usually with a little cream.

 

 

Leek and potato

 

Just wonderful!

 

 

Tomato

 

One of the more common soups. Refreshing and tasty. Can also be a cream of tomato.

 

 

Parsnip and apple

 

This is less common, but still very nice.

 

 

Cauliflower

 

Not a very common soup, but delicious none the less and an alternative way to cook cauliflower. Sometimes, a little curry powder is added. Usually served as a puree.

 

 

Cream of broccoli

 

Another pureed soup which is very tasty. A similar soup can be made with spinach and asparagus.

 

 

Watercress

 

A light refreshing soup and much, much better than you might think!

 

 

Nettle

 

Yes, that’s right – stinging nettles! Easily foraged and when cooked do not sting – but be careful when picking them. We know nettles were amongst the earliest of plants that our ancestors ate, so this is about as traditional as it gets. The flavour is quite mild but can be enhanced with other ingredients, such as potatoes, leek or onion and carrot. To my mind, it’s best blended as it doesn’t look too appetising with whole nettles. Hardly eaten at all in England these days, it was common war time food in the not so distant past. It awaits a comeback!

 

 

Minted pea soup

 

This is a very refreshing soup, especially if served cold. Another traditional soup that can be served chilled is asparagus soup, without the mint.

 

 

Pea and ham

 

Another very traditional combination and one of my favourites. A slight variation is known as ‘London Particular’, probably shown on the left and right hand side pictures.

 

 

Lentil and bacon/broad bean and bacon

 

Another winning combination.

 

 

Mulligatawny

 

England’s long association with India has inevitably led to a fusion style of cuisine, known as Anglo-Indian. These recipes were mainly developed by and for British people living in India during the Raj. Pronounced ‘mully-ga-torney’, this is a sort of spicy beef and tomato soup with apple in it. The original Indian version is just a spiced water sauce that is poured over rice.

 

 

Royal Game

 

This is a strong flavoured soup made from a stock of venison bones, with game bird and vegetables. Sometimes pureed. Always delicious.

 

 

Brown Windsor

 

Similar to Royal Game, but made with beef or lamb rather than game. Also delicious.

 

 

Oxtail

 

Part soup, part stew, this may be what Brown Windsor developed from.

 

 

Onion

 

Whilst the modern version of this is French in origin, onion soups have been regularly eaten in Europe since Roman times. And it has certainly been absorbed into English cuisine and doesn’t feel particularly ‘foreign’ or exotic. Apart from the wine and the brandy and the cheese and the croutons! Good though!

 

 

Chowder

 

Chowder is actually English in origin despite it being commonly associated with New England. It is a creamed fish soup, especially using white (smoked and/or unsmoked) fish and/or shell fish such as oysters, cockles, mussels, clams and prawns as well as potatoes and a little carrot.

 

 

Lobster bisque

 

Strictly speaking, this is also of French origin but it has now become completely integrated into English cuisine. At the end of the day, it’s just a pureed fish soup!! But what a fish soup, it is one of my favourites.

 

 

 

 

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