[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Bruce - Medieval Leek and Offal Soup
15 November 2012

Yes, once again it's time to get medieval! Long time readers of this website, or those who troll through the archives, will perhaps recall that about this time last year, my intrepid crew of medieval cooking afficionados were working on making, among other things, Roast Pig's Head with a medieval sauce for a bunch of Early Music folks. Well, we were on track to do another weekend of historically informed food for the same event when Fate intervened. Or, at least, a hurricane named Sandy and a follow-up Nor'easter intervened. The site was damaged and the event was cancelled.

The menu, however, had already been prepared. One member of last year's crack team had taken the lead this year and come up with a wide selection of recipes. One of those was called Bruce, and it is basically a leek and onion soup with noumbles. It comes from that invaluable source, Curye on Inglysch (page 100, #13 if you go looking.) It reads as follows:

Bruce. Take the whyte of lekes; slytte hem and shrede hem small. Take noumbles of swyne and perboyle hem in broth and wyne. Take hym vp and dresse hym, and do the leke in the broth; seeþ and do the noumbles þerto. Make a lyour of brede, blode, and vynegre and do þerto powdour fort. Seeþ oynouns, mynce hem and do þerto. The self wise make of porpeys.

I had leeks from the CSA, and both duck and bunny noumbles in the freezer, so I decided to give it a whirl.

[Lots of pictures]


First a word about the noumbles. I had been saving giblets from the duck and rabbit I made recently. So I had some nice liver, a couple of hearts, a few kidneys, and so forth. If you don't stockpile organs in your freezer, you could use whatever sorts of offal you can find - I'm going to try it again with beef heart, myself. The recipe, however, would work with most non-organ meats as well. In fact, one manuscript says to use "pigge" instead of "porpeys." The mixed offal gives it a nice variety of flavors and textures, though. So save your turkey giblets from Thanksgiving!

In any case, bring a few cups of water to a boil. If you have broth and wine, by all means use them. I didn't have any stock ready, and we drank the last bottle of wine with the previous night's dinner (poor planning, I know), so I just used water. This meant that the leek and onion really came into their own, which was no bad thing. When the water is boiling, add the noumbles and boil for 2-3 minutes. If you've got bigger pieces, you might give them another minute or so. Then remove them, dust them with salt and pepper, and set them aside.

Cut your leeks and onions into fairly small pieces. "Shrede hem small," that is. Add them to your liquid and set them to simmer for about twenty minutes.

In the meantime, put the bread crumbs into the vinegar to soak. Heat a drizzle of oil in a skillet, and when it's hot, give the noumbles a quick sear.

Remove the vegetables from the broth. Add your bread crumbs and vinegar to the broth. The recipe calls for blood, and if you have some, add it. I didn't, it's hard to get around here. Let the broth simmer for ten minutes or so, stirring now and then, so the bread really has a chance to break down. Return the vegetables to the pot and continue to simmer.

At this point, you can either get ready to serve or let the dish simmer for a while. The longer it simmers, the more the vegetables will break down and the smoother the texture. We had a cocktail and chatted while it simmered, and then got ready to serve.

Taste the broth and add salt and pepper to taste. The recipe calls for "powdour fort," and if you've got a favorite powder fort mix, by all means use it. I toyed with adding some ginger, but ending up going for nothing but salt and pepper. Add the noumbles and mix gently, heating them through. Check the seasonings again and serve.

For the event, we had been planning to do a vegetarian version of the broth and base, and do our noumbles on the side for people to add if they wanted. Since this was just for ourselves, I didn't go that route. Strictly speaking, I shouldn't have seared the noumbles, but I tend to like a little sear on my offal, so what the hell?

© 2012 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite