For people who care about their food

A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes

Most of you will already have heard of Project Gutenberg, where you can access free books which are no longer subject to copyright restrictions. I just came across a beauty and thought I’d share it with you. It’s a real gem, and rather patronising as I’m sure you’ll agree, but it makes fascinating reading. For any of you who have neighbours hit by the recession and want to give them a helping hand, here’s some advice for how to go about it.

A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes

by Charles Elmé Francatelli

No. 239. How to Prepare a Large Quantity of Good Soup for the Poor

It is customary with most large families, while living in the country, to kill at least some portion of the meat consumed in their households; and without supposing for a moment that any portion of this is ever wasted, I may be allowed to suggest that certain parts, such as sheep’s heads, plucks, shanks, and scrag-ends, might very well be spared towards making a good mess of soup for the poor. The bones left from cooked joints, first baked in a brisk oven for a quarter of an hour, and afterwards boiled in a large copper of water for six hours, would readily prepare a gelatinized foundation broth for the soup; the bones, when sufficiently boiled, to be taken out. And thus, supposing that your copper is already part filled with the broth made from bones (all the grease having been removed from the surface), add any meat you may have, cut up in pieces of about four ounces weight, garnish plentifully with carrots, celery, onions, some thyme, and ground allspice, well-soaked split peas, barley, or rice; and, as the soup boils up, skim it well occasionally, season moderately with salt, and after about four hours’ gentle and continuous boiling, the soup will be ready for distribution. It was the custom in families where I have lived as cook, to allow a pint of this soup, served out with the pieces of meat in it, to as many as the recipients’ families numbered; and the soup was made for distribution twice every week during winter.

If this recipe has left you salivating for more, you can get a free copy of the entire book here:
Project Gutenberg: A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes by Charles Elmé Francatelli

3 Responses to “A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes”

  1. Not Delia

    Hi, thanks for the comment. I had a look at your blog too – lots of interesting stuff on there. I’ll read more later when I have time. I like the way you don’t achieve perfection every time. We all have our little disasters, otherwise we’d never learn anything. 🙂

  2. Mike K-H

    Interesting to see that even poor house soup was seasoned with thyme & allspice. Quite a tasty broth. I’d be happy to drink it.

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