A simple and satisfying soup from sixteenth (!) century England via Michael Smith. He was a lovely man, brilliant cook and talented performer who died much too young, but not before publishing a number of excellent books on food, including Fine English Cookery (London 1973), the source of this recipe. As he explains, the soup is so fast and easy to make that it is useful to “give the ingredients for individual portions”.
For each serving:
-1 cup “well-seasoned strong-flavoured” chicken stock
-half a beaten egg
-1 Tablespoon finely diced Cheddar or other sharp hard cheese
-1 teaspoon minced chive, scallion greens, parsley or a combination of them
- Heat the number of bowls you require.
- Boil the stock; skim it if necessary.
- Whisk the egg into the soup and pour it into the warm bowls.
- Add the cheese and greens to each bowl and serve immediately “whilst,” as Smith instructs, “the cheese is still melting.”
- We are not ordinarily adamant about heating bowls or plates for that matter, and in reality are not adamant here either, but the warm bowls do improve this soup with its melty cheese.
- Most recipes that, like this one, date to the English Renaissance, taste alien to twenty-first century diners; not this one.
- The soup is equally good made with beef stock.
- The date of publication for Fine English Cookery is not in error; Smith’s book championing a revival in English foodways actually did appear earlier than the more celebrated works of Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson the following year. In characteristic generous fashion Mrs. Grigson gave Smith credit in print; equally characteristically, David did not.