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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

War-time Soup

As a young married woman writing to a friend expressed it, “We live mostly on entrails.”

I spent yesterday in 1917. Felt like it, anyway! I was reading Dorothy Constance Peel’s How We Lived Then, 1914-1918: A Sketch of Social and Domestic Life in England During the War. Here’s a gem from the appendix (originally distributed by the Ministry of Food in 1917 and 1918):

War-time Soup

All outer leaves and peelings and tops and tails of vegetables, all fruit peelings, stones and cores, all saucepan and dish rinsings, bread crusts, remains of suet, batter, and milky puddings (but not jam or sweet puddings), cheese and bacon rinds, skim milk, sour milk, remains of sauces (not sweet sauces) or gravy, vegetable water, margarine (if liked), pepper and salt, water.

Wash thoroughly all vegetable peelings and leaves (do not use potato peelings); use the outer leaves of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, curly kale, lettuce, leeks, and onions; the tops and peelings of turnips, carrots, parsnips, swedes, kohlrabi. Put all into a cooking box saucepan with plenty of water, bring to the boil, boil 20 minutes; add some or all of the other ingredients; season to taste; boil 10 minutes without removing cover, and place in the cooking box 2 to 3 hours. Take out and rub through a sieve and, if necessary, reheat on gas ring.

Every economical housewife should have War-time Soup constantly going; it is both delicious and nourishing and, above all, cheap.

Today we’d call this ‘compost stew’! Cheap? For sure. Delicious? I’m doubtful. (It’s the ‘dish rinsings’ mostly. And the sour milk!) Any brave soul want to try this?

(I took down another recipe for vegetable pie with a potato crust, which would have been a sensible thing to cook during meat shortages. That one I’m going to try next month when I’m home again.)

[Edit: to put the above quote into context, offal wasn’t rationed, so it was much easier to obtain scrap meats.]

6 Comments to War-time Soup

  1. February 24, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    It was the “dish rinsings” that got me too!

  2. February 24, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Ygh! But I do want to try a less extreme version of this someday (also sans bacon rinds and the other fatty bits)…

  3. Scumflaps O'Hagan's Gravatar Scumflaps O'Hagan
    February 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    It sounds almost as tasty as my famed smelly sock soup.

  4. February 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Incredible as it may seem, this is not spam.

  5. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    February 26, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    First of all what is suet? Also, wouldn’t that to be harmful to be eating soap (which I’m assuming was in the “dish rinsings”?

  6. February 26, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Suet, n. the hard white fat on the kidneys and loins of cattle, sheep, and other animals, used to make foods including puddings, pastry, and mincemeat. (But there’s such a thing as vegetable suet as well.)
    You know how Grandpop rinses out his dishes with a bit of water while he’s still at the table? I’m assuming that’s what ‘dish rinsings’ mean—before you get to the soap. Otherwise…YGGGH sudsy compost soup!!

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.