Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Milk Soup.

No-one utters the phrase ‘milk soup’ anymore, which I guess means that no-one makes it. If one did want to make milk soup, one would first of all have to decide on the style of the soup, for it seems that there are several.

In the time of the inimitable Hannah Glasse, author of The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747), milk soup was essentially a custard or a custardy bread pudding.

Milk Soup the Dutch Way
Take a quart of milk, boil it with cinnamon and moist sugar; put sippets in the dish, pour the milk over it, and set it over a charcoal fire to simmer, till the bread is soft. Take the yolks of two eggs, beat them up, and mix it with a little of the milk, and throw it in; mix all together, and send it up to table.

One of the early vegetarian medical men included two recipes for milk soup in his book, Dr Allinson’s Cook Book (1915) The first one is a wheatmeal and vegetable puree, the second one ‘for children’ is another milk pudding.

Milk Soup.
2 onions, 2 turnips, 1 head of celery, 3 pints of milk, 1 pint of water, 2 tablespoons of Allison fine wheatmeal, pepper and salt to taste. Chop up the vegetables and boil them in the water until quite tender. Rub them through a sieve, return the whole to the saucepan, add pepper and salt, rub the wheatmeal smooth in the milk, let the soup simmer for 5 minutes, and serve.

Milk Soup for Children.
1½ pints of milk, 1 egg, 1 tablespoonful of Allinson fine wheatmeal, 1½ oz of sultanas, sugar to taste. Boil 1¼ pints of milk, add the sugar, beat up the egg with the rest of the milk and mix the wheatmeal smooth with it; stir this into the boiling milk, add the sultanas, and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes.

For a decidedly savoury option, we have, from Modern Domestic Cookery, and Useful Receipt Book, by William Augustus Henderson (1828.)

Milk Soup with Onions.
Take a dozen of onions, and set them over a stove till they are done without being coloured. Then boil some milk, add to it the onions, and season with salt alone. Put some butter onions to scald, then pass them in butter and when tender add it to the soup and serve it up.

And finally, a soup (or is it a custard?) which can be savoury or sweet at whim, from Food in Health and Disease, by Isaac Burney Yeo (1890)

Vermicelli Milk Soup.
Into a quart of boiling milk put a level saltspoonful of salt (or celery salt); add slowly (stirring constantly) 2 oz. of vermicelli; keep stirring for fifteen or twenty minutes, until quite soft. The yolks of two eggs should be added when the soup is ready to be removed from the fire. This soup may also be flavoured with cinnamon and sugar.

Quotation for the Day.

There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies.
Winston Churchill.


Keith said...

Excellent, your link in a post on my Blog.

Bart said...

The Dutch version was still eaten fervently by my grandmother some 20 years ago, although she knew it by the less fancy name of 'bread gruel' (broodpap). And when there's nothing else to be had I've been known to make it myself. So no doubt the connotation 'Dutch' can be expanded to include present-day Flanders, as is often the case.

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks Le Loup!
Thanks too, Bart. One interesting thing is that an essentially identical recipe in another cook book of the time called it 'Dutch or German soup' so it seems the northern European connection is quite wide.

Stella said...

For your information milk soups are still very popular in some countries. It is actually one of my childhood favorites, along with pancakes. Though I ate milk soups with dumplings made from egg batter. I had never heard of any of the recipes you wrote.

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Stella: thanks for this personal insight. Do you have a family recipe? Do you still make milk soup? Where did you grow up?

Stella said...

I grew up in Latvia. My mom makes the dumplings from 2 eggs, a pinch of salt, half of a glass of milk (125 ml) and then enough flour to make a somewhat thick batter. It can't be too runny because otherwise the dumplings won't hold together but if you make it too thick you might have to boil them for a very long time for them to be soft. Basically you just need to practice. Not to discourage anyone, I still haven't learned to make the right balance but then again it's a mom's recipe, those you can never master as good as her.
Anyway many Latvians make also different milk soups like with rice or pasta. You can simply try googling "piena zupa" and you'll see many latvian recipes, then all you need to do is use goolge translate :)

The Old Foodie said...

Thaks Stella - those family recipes with no exactly measured ingredients are a challenge, arent they? I think you never end up with the exact same experience - something your mom made will always have a special mom flavour - but that doesnt mean yours will be inferior - just different.

Kim said...

My husbands Mom always made Milk Soup. They came from a very large family (9) so it was a very low cost meal to prepare.

Gallon of Milk
Dozen of Eggs
Stick of Butter
Package of Egg Noodles.

Put everything into the pan, Including uncooked noodles, cook all day on very low temp.
It will become thick and eggs and noodles will be done.

Kathy said...

My mother still makes milk soup. We had some today. The recipe is not exact but one egg is mixed using the fingers with enough flour to make rivels; a miniature dumpling the size of a large grain of rice. The rivels are added to hot milk, cooked and served as is or sweetened to taste.

Anonymous said...

I always make milk soup with spaetzel. Yum. Bavarian grandparents.

Unknown said...

My German grandmother used to make this for me as a child. I miss her and her German cooking.