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Old 28-01-2019, 01:34   #1

Brown Windsor Soup

"Brown Windsor Soup"

Just realized that you might like to read the research we did, circa 2014, about Brown Windsor Soup. "It is the soup that built the Empire" - except that there is no real evidence of it before World War II.

I contacted Michael Quinion of World Wide Words about this conundrum, and this is what he wrote:


Brown Windsor is a British soup that rarely appears on menus these
days, though chefs such as Jamie Oliver have reinterpreted it for a
new generation. Some recent books and foodie websites salute it as a
grand old traditional dish which fueled the nineteenth-century middle
classes and sustained the British Empire. This is one:

'This hearty soup was both nourishing and popular during the Victorian
and Edwardian periods. In fact, Queen Victoria was fond of this soup,
and it was often served at royal banquets.' - The Unofficial Downton
Abbey Cookbook, by Emily Ansara Baines, 2012.

The problem is that nobody has found any mention of brown Windsor soup
before this:

'After queuing for a quarter of an hour for a seat, he shared a table
with a woman whose idea of a suitable four o’clock meal was brown
Windsor soup followed by prunes and custard.' - The Fancy, by Monica
Dickens, 1943.

If it was so significant a dish, why isn’t it in published Victorian
menus and why isn’t it mentioned in any cookery book or newspaper of
the period?

The name brown Windsor soup may have been a mashup of several other
terms. A Windsor soup is known from the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries and appeared on many menus, one classic recipe requiring
chopped beef, veal and bacon. White Windsor soup also existed, a
vegetable soup which a recipe of 1911 says was made from white stock,
mashed potato and sago. Some writers have used Windsor soup for
calves’ feet soup, a food for invalids said to have been served to
Queen Victoria in childbed. A few very early recipes for Windsor soup
say it should include Windsor beans, presumably the source of the name
(despite one claim online, there’s no connection with the British
royal family, which changed its name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor
only in 1917). In Victorian times dinners might begin with a choice of
brown or white soup, so named. The former was a meat soup whose
recipes broadly match those of the meat form of Windsor soup.

Another possible constituent of the linguistic melange is the very
similarly named brown Windsor soap. Its first appearance was in an
advertisement in the Times in 1818 and it seems to have had an
excellent reputation. It is said to have been a mixture of olive oil
and ox suet, coloured with burnt sugar or umber. It’s possible that
people could have unconsciously conflated brown soup and brown Windsor

Alternatively, and more plausibly, the two names might have been put
together to make a humorous put-down of an inferior version of brown
soup during the austerity of the Second World War.

'And I can remember — which of my generation can’t? — the particular
culinary horrors of war: Woolton pie, composed of vegetables and
sausage meat more crumb than sausage, and brown Windsor soup which
tasted of gravy browning. ... Woolton pie and brown Windsor soup
featured largely on the menu of the British Restaurants set up under
the aegis of the Ministry of Food to provide inexpensive and healthy
meals.' - Time to be in Earnest, by P D James, 1999. Woolton Pie
commemorates Lord Woolton, Minister of Food in 1940.

Whatever its origins, references to brown Windsor soup are common
after the Second World War, often in horrified descriptions of the
then dreadful state of British cooking in pretentious restaurants and
on trains and ferries. It became shorthand for awful food; comics only
had to mention it to get a laugh.

But as we’ve seen, in some quarters brown Windsor soup is now held up
as an example of excellent nineteenth-century British fare. To explain
the change probably needs a culinary expert or a folklorist rather
than an etymologist.

(End quote)

World Wide Words: Brown Windsor soup

More including a recipe:

Foods of England - Brown Windsor Soup
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