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Martha Lloyd’s Recipe for White Soup

May 11, 2012

Dotted around the Museum in this, the year of At Home with the Austens, are some facsimile pages from Martha Lloyd’s Household Book. This is an important book, not only for its collection of early 19th century recipes, but because it allows us to see what food was prepared and eaten at Chawton by the Austen household. We thought you might like to see the recipes on show in more detail, and so today is the first in a series of posts about some of the individual food recipes and household remedies contained in Martha’s book. Today we have…White Soup.

Here is a translation of the handwriting for any of you who find it difficult to decipher (Do note you can click on the photograph of the recipe to enlarge it, to make it easier to read)

White Soup

 Make a gravy of any kind of meat, add to it the yolks of four eggs boiled hard and pounded very fine, 2 oz. of sweet almonds pounded, as much cream as will make it a good colour.

You might like to compare Martha’s recipe with one from a published source from the early 19th century.  In the 1816 edition of her book, A New System of Domestic Cookery: Formed upon the Principles of Economy and adapted to the use of Private Families Mrs. Maria Rundell (1745-1828)  two versions of White Soup recipes: one complex and one which had more in common with Martha’s version:

A Plainer White Soup

 Two of three pints of soup may be made of a small knuckle of veal, with seasoning as directed in the last article;and both served together with the addition of a quarter pint of good milk. Two spoonfuls of cream and a little ground rice will give it the proper thickness.

Here is her more complicated version:

An Excellent White Soup

 Take a scrag of mutton, a knuckle of veal, after cutting off as much meat as will make collops, two or three shank bones of mutton nicely cleaned and a quarter of a pound of very fine undrest lean gammon of bacon: with a bunch of sweet herbs, a piece of lemon-peel, two or three onions, three blades of mace and a desert spoonful of white pepper; boil all in three quarts of water  till the meat falls quite to pieces. Next day take off the fat, clear the jelly from the sediment, and put it in a saucepan of the nicest tin. If macaroni is used it should be added soon enough to get perfectly tender, after soaking in cold water. Vermicelli may be added after the thickening, as it requires less time to do.

 Have ready the thickening which is to be made as follows: Blanch a quarter of a pound of sweet almonds, and beat them to a paste in a marble mortar, with a spoonful of water to prevent their oiling; mince a large slice of drest veal or chicken and beat it with a piece of stale white bread; add all this to a pint of thick cream, a bit of fresh lemon-peel and a blade of mace, in the finest powder. Boil it a few minutes; add to it a pint of soup, and strain and pulp it through a coarse sieve; this thickening is then fit for putting it to the rest, which should boil for an hour afterwards.

 You can clearly see that Martha’s recipe has less expensive ingredients than Mrs Rundell’s more complex version, and was less time consuming and you may recall that Jane Austen mentioned White Soup  in Pride and Prejudice. The affable Charles Bingley referred to it:

 No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement; when, hearing her brother mentioning a ball to Miss Bennet, she turned suddenly towards him and said — “By the bye, Charles, are you really serious in meditating a dance at Netherfield? I would advise you, before you determine on it, to consult the wishes of the present party; I am much mistaken if there are not some among us to whom a ball would be rather a punishment than a pleasure.”

“If you mean Darcy,” cried her brother, “he may go to bed, if he chuses, before it begins — but as for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough, I shall send round my cards.”

Volume I, Chapter 11


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Lila permalink
    May 11, 2012 3:30 pm

    Ahh, finally something about that book… :o)
    wellll, you made me drool… I’m always hungry 😀 I must try it.

    Thank you for this post. I rather prefer brevity of Martha’s entries to those long and complicated recipes… – Short and to the point. 🙂
    The allusion to P&P scene involving the soup is very helpful – I remember it clearly now 🙂

  2. cathyallen permalink
    May 19, 2012 4:15 pm

    Very interesting, Julie; I’d never have known! Thank you.

  3. May 30, 2012 2:35 pm

    Fabulous, I must get determined and try and make the simplest sounding recipe!


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