Town soup

I was looking through an old newspaper and came across a recipe for town soup. I was in a hurry so didn’t actually read it, but saved it for later. Coming back I saw the title and wondered what town soup might be – country soup I can guess would be full of vegetables and maybe barley, but town soup? Maybe cheap ingredients which might have been leftovers at a market? Or maybe something sold from booths or stalls for workers to have for their lunch? Intriguing!

Intriguing except it wasn’t – I had misread it and in fact it was Tongue Soup. I actually like pressed tongue, I’m the only one in the family that does and I can understand the texture (or the thought of it) might put people off. When my granddad had a pub in the 1930’s and 30’s, at Christmas he would have a tongue behind the bar which he would carve slices for sandwiches for his regulars. Unlike pressed tongue which we have today, it was unpressed, cooked, skinned but in its original shape… I think that might have put even me off!

In the recipe I came across it is described as a useful and cheap soup, well, yes, it might be… except if no-one in the family ate it and it was thrown away, it wouldn’t be very cheap, nor much use! The recipe dictates a mighty lot of cooking – stewed for four hours with ‘with trimmings of any bones of fowl or veal’, it’s then skinned and boiled again this time with a carrot, a turnip, a head of celery, an onion and half a teaspoonful of cayenne for another hour. Then everything is strained, the liquor skimmed, and later when the tongue is cool it’s grated – yes, grated (is that even possible?) and a mere two tablespoons of it is put back in the soup with another carrot and turnip, cubed, and cooked for yet another hour – six hours altogether! Will it taste of anything at all? In case you want to try it, serve it with rice.

On the same page is a recipe for boiled eels – another ‘delectable’ dish, ‘fowl á la tartare’, a recipe by Monsieur Blot for green peas, and how to bottle cherries…

I think I would be better off with Town Soup!



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