Christmas Pottage

Christmas Pottage

Christmas was a feast, so I doubt that pottage would necessarily have been part of the main meal, but this is a series about pottage and that’s what I made. Many people celebrated the feast in the hall of the lord of the manor and that probably means that they ate the lord’s meat.

I’m a vegetarian, so meat isn’t an option for me, but I wanted this month’s pottage to be a bit of a celebration. Since whatever the people sitting in their lord’s hall ate was probably made with meat stock, I allowed myself vegetable stock in my pottage.

Sonya from Losing the Plot sent me some soup mix from Northern Ireland which is rather pottage-like in its makeup. It contains pearl barley, red split lentils, green split peas and yellow split peas. Medieval Gardens tells me that lentils weren’t commonly available in the Middle Ages and I thought that would make them something suitable for the Christmas feast.

I soaked the dry ingredients overnight, rinsed them and boiled them for 10 minutes. After that they simmered for 40 minutes. I rinsed them again and added them to some vegetable stock together with some leeks from the garden and some carrots. That cooked for another ten minutes.  It was very tasty and had the advantage over some previous pottages of looking nice in the bowl.

For poorer people who didn’t get to eat at their lord’s table, ham probably featured in their more humble Christmas feast. It’s a tradition that continued at least into my childhood. One of the smells I associate with Christmas is a ham boiling in the pressure cooker on Christmas Eve.


April Munday is the author of the Soldiers of Fortune and Regency Spies series of novels, as well as standalone novels set in the fourteenth century.

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Filed under Fourteenth Century, Medieval Food

26 responses to “Christmas Pottage

  1. The carrots make it look quite cheering as well as appetising. The leeks set them off nicely

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Our small Christma dinner will feature food for a vegitarian, a vegan (fasting) and a meat-ester. It’s the company that matters.

    I hope you have a Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lydiaschoch

    Your pottage looks delicious this month. I associate Christmas with ham, too! In fact, there’s a little ham sitting in my fridge right now. This is one of the few times of the year that I cook something like that.

    Merry Christmas, April. I hope it’s a wonderful one for you.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I discovered today that lentils got their name from the Latin word for “lens”,
    due to the convex shape. It was common fare in the Mediterranean region, and figured largely in the various festivals calling for fasting. From lentils we get “Lent”, the introspective time before Easter.

    English peas (or pease), easy to grow & a staple in the Islands, made a perfect substitute. Marrowfat peas & green peas, (which are identical in shape to lentils), are legumes, and fit the religious requirements. Black pea
    origins defied my search, but I think they’ve been in England a long time.

    But it stands to reason that lentils would have been available for major religious feasts in medieval England, being Lent was named for them.

    Whatever the source, they’re all yummy! And the dish looked very appealing. Just what I needed for the New Year’s resolution to eat more vegetable matter! Thank you, and thanks to Sonya!

    A blessed last week of 2018 to you, April, and all your wonderful readers! ♥♥♥

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes, turkey was for Thanksgiving and at Christmas we had ham. I look forward to ham at Christmas and using the leftover in split pea soup. Your pottage does look very yummy.

    Wishing you a most joyous holiday season April.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yes, this month’s portage does present itself nicely. I love a good veggie stew! Our family, too, has a ham in the fridge ready to be cooked for that nostalgic Christmas dinner. I wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas, April! 🎄

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Have a jolly good Christmas April🎄

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ham is still a staple of Christmas fare here in New Zealand – partly because it can be eaten cold with salads.

    In my lifetime I’ve seen a move away from the traditional roast dinner and heavy puddings (poor Mum slaving over a hot stove) to a greater variety of summer treats, including lots of colourful salads. Weather permitting, meat eaters are quite likely to have barbecues – though that can include roasting a turkey on the barbecue.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Excellent, as usual, April. A very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you!

    Liked by 3 people

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