Good Meat Soup

Katie Maxwell, Visitor Services Coordinator

I’m not sure if “Good” describes the meat or the soup, but we’ll find out. I’m hoping for better luck with soup than I had with the Indian Pound Cake. You can find this 1800 recipe on pages 25-27 of 35 Receipts from “The Larder Invaded” by William Woys Weaver. Dr. Weaver has helpfully reduced the original 100-gallon recipe to one that will feed 15 people (27).

Ingredients for Good Meat Soup

The Ingredients

6 qts. water plus 1 cup

2 ¾ lb. stewing beef (weight may include half bones and half “clods” or lumps of meat

4 ½ oz. split peas

7 ½ oz. pearl barley

4 ½ oz. chopped onion (roughly 1 medium onion)

2 tblsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. pepper

I am using beef shanks here because Dr. Weaver provides the following note:

NOTE: The original recipe used beef shins, which are still proper, provided they can be obtained. Historically shins were considered worthless. Most butchers threw them out or gave them to charities.

I found them to be easily obtained, and most important of all, CHEAP!

If using bones with meat attached, boil two hours in the water, skimming often.

If you are me, there is another unwritten direction: first start measuring and pouring the water into a dutch oven, only to realize that vessel is too small. Then, move up to a larger pot, only for that one to be proven insufficient before finally tracking down your largest stockpot where you completely forgot that you had placed some bread dough to rise. After some consolidating, finally get the water and the meat into the aforementioned largest stockpot.

Beef shins in an 8 quart stockpot

The 8 qt stockpot. The directions don’t state whether to keep the lid on or take it off.

Stockpot image from The Larder Invaded

Well, this pot doesn’t have a lid, so once the liquid is boiling, I remove the lid to let it simmer.

Then remove the bones and meat,

Boiled beef shins removed from stockpot

My dog is entirely too interested in this process.

And cut the meat into small pieces or cubes. If using only “clods”, as they were called, cut into cubes and boil two hours, skimming often but do not remove “clods”.

Beef shins removed from bone and cut into "clods"

I can’t say “clod” is the most appetizing term I’ve ever heard of.

Add the onion, barley, peas, salt, and pepper.

Adding the peas and barley

It is at this point I realize that the soup has reduced quite a bit. I usually like to reduce the liquid when I’m making chicken stock to concentrate the flavor, but 2 tbsp of salt sure seems like a lot now.

Cook 45-60 minutes, or until the barley and peas are soft.

Good Meat Soup, served

Serve with a course grade of rye bread or no bread at all.

I bought a loaf of Russian rye for this exact purpose.

Time to give it a taste. It is indeed very salty. It’s possible that I was supposed to leave the lid on. However, this mistake is easily rectified with the addition of a dash of apple cider vinegar and some hot sauce. It’s good. It is a good meat soup.

Next time, I’ll be making something completely different: Whipped Syllabub. What is Whipped Syllabub?