Warm up your "cockles"- Oh, I say! with Mrs Beeton’s Useful Soup for Benevolent Purposes - Victorian cuisine at its finest! Created with a jolly good dousing of Thatcher's Oak Aged Vintage Cider - the very best of Somerset fayre!
My dears, you maybe already know, that in 1861 during the reign of our sovereign - Queen Victoria (curtsey please!) Mrs Isabella Beeton’s most treasured creation – Beeton’s Book of Household Management was first published. And as nature intended, she flourished into the worlds-greatest teacher of all things "domestic and culinary" – Oh, what an inspiration! And luckily for Miss Windsor, she just so happens to own a copy of the 1906 edition which evidently was bestowed the new title of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management – How spiffing!
Moving swiftly on, whilst scouring through my glorious 1906 edition, there I discovered Mrs Beeton’s ONE and ONLY recipe to be of her very own creation – Benevolent Soup, which was originally known as Useful Soup for Benevolent Purposes.
Darlings, now rumour has it, she nobbled a fair few recipes from other famous cooks, such as Eliza Acton, who in 1845 published Modern Cookery for Private Families – slapped wrist, Mrs Beeton! She also included recipes in Beeton’s Book of Household Management that were created by readers of her monthly column, thus the recipes were first showcased in her husbands (Mr Samuel Orchart Beeton) publication - The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine.
Righty oh, let’s return our focus to Mrs Beeton’s Mrs Beeton’s Useful Soup for Benevolent Purposes. You see, during the month of February it’s usually rather chilly here in England, yet for some bizarre reason temperatures have reached around 18*C or so – well, I never!
Anyway, darlings, the history books dictate that in 1858 England endured a terribly harsh and deathly cold winter. So much so, our charitable, selfless, and kindly Mrs Beeton set up a soup kitchen from her home and served this hearty, meat-based (ox-cheek) chunky vegetable, and liquor-laced concoction - in Miss Windsor’s case Thatchers cider! to the hungry, homeless, or destitute folk of Hatch End, Pinner, London. Therefore, and quite rightly so, Mrs Beeton’s ONE and ONLY recipe was published in her very first book!
May I add, my revision of this wintery dish is a fabulous fusion between Mrs Beeton’s original 1858 recipe and the 1906 version as mentioned above – and of course, I followed her instructions and cooking methods thoroughly, thus achieved excellence.
Darlings, rather interestingly, my observations of Mrs Beeton’s original 1858 recipe is that some of the ingredient measurements differ quite considerably in comparison to my 1906 version such as a whole ox-cheek as opposed to 1/2 an ox-cheek; 1/2 lb. of carrots instead of 2 carrots; and 1/2 lb. of turnips rather than 2 large turnips - plus there’s a few extra ingredients that are not included in my 1906 version.
USEFUL SOUP FOR BENEVOLENT PURPOSES - 1858 Recipe!
INGREDIENTS. - 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, ¼ peck of onions, 6 leeks, a large bunch of herbs,½ lb. of celery (the outside pieces, or green tops, do very well); ½ lb. of carrots, ½ lb. of turnips,½ lb. of coarse brown sugar, ½ a pint of beer, 4 lbs. of common rice, or pearl barley; ½ lb. of salt, 1 oz. of black pepper, a few raspings, 10 gallons of water.
I say, why not have a "goosey gander" yourself, and you’ll notice that the original age-old recipe also called for 1/2 pint of beer, whereas the 1906 version noted only water! Oh, and if you’re wondering what the heck a 1/4 "peck" of onions actually is, please don’t despair as Miss Windsor endeavours to ease your curiosity.
Well, darlings, it’s a very early measurement which was originally introduced to measure flour during the 14th century, and so in this day and age a 1/4 of a peck is roughly equal to just over 2 kilos, “Cor blimey!” I hear you trumpet with immense surprise!
Now, have you ever heard of the culinary requirement of "raspings" before? Well, Miss Windsor certainly hasn’t! and so on that note one consulted the jolly old internet and discovered it means browned breadcrumbs. Darlings, but to be honest I beg to differ, as the 1858 recipe calls for a "few" raspings, which clearly indicates that raspings are much larger than breadcrumbs, therefore, I do wonder what the Dickens Mrs Beeton was referring to? Please do enlighten Miss Windsor if you’re privy to such culinary knowledge – Ta very muchly!
Darlings, and just one more thing, although I scaled down some of the ingredient measurements, Mrs Beeton’s Useful Soup for Benevolent Purposes is ample to serve a large family with leftovers, which one may decanter into a Tupperware dish and pop in the freezer for a rainy or in this case a rather inclement day!
ALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY MISS WINDSOR
Mrs Beeton’s Cold Winter Soup
Preparation time: 30-40 mins
Cooking time: 3 hours
Serves a large family!
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