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Parson Woodforde’s giblet soup

Woodforde was a convivial eighteenth century soul who enjoyed his food and recorded in some detail virtually every dish he ever ate. He and his compatriots knew something most of us do not. Giblets represent a wonderful ingredient packed with subtle flavor that lends itself particularly well to stock. Giblets are cheap to boot--free with better quality chickens--and freeze quite well, so you can save them up. The Editor has based this version of the parson’s soup on Jane Grigson’s description of it. You will want to cook your giblets the day before assembling the soup itself. About two quarts of satisfying soup.

  • Ducks.jpgabout 2 lb giblets (no livers)
  • about 2½ quarts beef stock
  • 2½ Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 heaped Tablespoons flour (preferably Wondra)
  • generous Tablespoon dried marjoram
  • about 1 cup minced parsley
  • 2 generous Tablespoons chopped chives or scallion greens
  • cayenne to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 or more oz Madeira (see the Notes)


  1. Simmer the giblets in the stock until tender, usually in 30-40 minutes. Strain the stock and refrigerate it overnight, then skim all fat from the surface.
  2. Chop the giblets into small pieces, trimming off the sinewy bits.
  3. Melt the butter over medium heat until it bubbles and browns, then quickly whisk the flour into the butter until smooth. You do not want it to darken, at least not much, so begin immediately but gradually to whisk the stock into the roux. Simmer this soup base for about 30 minutes.
  4. Add the giblets and continue cooking the soup for 5 minutes, then add everything else and simmer for 5 minutes more.
  5. Serve the soup hot with either triangles of crustless toast or a bowl of croutons.


-As we have demonstrated elsewhere, cheap fake Madeira has an unexpected utility, particularly, but by no means exclusively, for cooking. We like Paul Masson best, followed by the slightly drier and less flavorful fellow imposter from Pastene.

-Mrs. Grigson notes that turkey giblets would be even better; their flavor is more robust. Goose innards would be better still, but take care to wipe away their film of fat.

-Mrs. Grigson also recommends the addition of pennyroyal “if you do grow” it.

-Worcestershire is a nice addition to the stock but, with the giblets, the usual aromatics are unwelcome: You do not want to mask their earthy and yet delicate flavor.