I want to continue with the London theme today, with the interesting topic of Windsor Soup. Windsor Soup was standard issue on the Victorian dinner table, and was often referred to specifically as Brown Windsor Soup. Many recipes do indeed suggest that it was a thickish brownish unappetising mess. It appears however, that originally it was a clear, thin ‘white’ broth. The generally accepted explanation is that the Windsor Soup loved yet despised by the Victorian English evolved from Calves Feet Soup à la Windsor, created by her chef Charles Elmé Francatelli for the newly post-natal Queen Victoria.
How then did this elegant nutritious broth become the ubiquitous and despised thick brown mess known as Windsor Soup? The story I like is that the name evoked a well-known no-frills product called Windsor Soap, which was apparently brown in colour, that had already been around for at least several decades. The soup then evolved in imitation of the soap. Ha! Ha! But perhaps true, and anyway, I love the idea.
I give you Francatelli’s soup recipe from his book, The Modern Cook, published in 1845.
Calf's Feet Soup, A La Windsor.
Place in a two gallon stock-pot a knuckle of veal, a pound of raw lean ham, four calf s feet, and an old hen minus the fillets; which reserve for making quenelles with, for further use. To these add two carrots, two onions stuck with four cloves, celery, a bouquet of parsley, green onions, sweet basil, and lemon thyme, tied neatly together, moisten with half a bottle of light French white wine, and put the stock-pot on a moderate fire to boil for ten minutes or so; then fill it up from the common stock, or any white broth you may have ready, set it to boil on the stove, skim it well, and after four hours gentle ebullition, take the calf's feet out and put them in water to clean them; then take all the bones out, arid lay them on a dish to cool, to be trimmed afterwards so as to leave the inner part of the feet only, all the outer skin being thinly paired off, that the feet may have a more transparent appearance ; cut them into inch lengths, by half an inch in width, and put them by in a small soup pot till required. Strain the consomme through a napkin, thicken it moderately with a little white roux, (going through the regular process for making white veloute,) then add thereto a little essence of mushrooms, and finish by incorporating with the sauce thus prepared, a leason of six yolks of eggs mixed with a little grated Parmesan, and half a pint of cream; squeeze the juice of half a lemon into it, and season with a little crystallized soluble cayenne. Pour the soup into the tureen containing two dozen very small quenelles, (made with the fillets of the old hen,) some boiled macaroni cut into inch lengths, and the tendons of the calf's feet, previously warmed in a little consomme, with the addition of half a glass of white wine. Stir the soup gently in the tureen to mix these ingredients together, and send to table.
Quotation for the Day.
Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel's immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way