Internet Shakespeare Editions


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This kitchen is a recreation of the kind that was used in Shakespeare's time.
It is in Sally Lund's house, Bath. Photograph Roberta Livingstone.

"Pottage" -- soup or broth -- was one of the mainstays of the diet for ordinary working people:

Pottage with whole herbs

If you will make pottage of the best and daintiest kind, you shall take mutton, veal, or kid, and having broke the bones, but not cut the flesh in pieces, and washed it, put it into a pot with fair water; after it is ready to boil, and is thoroughly scummed, you shall put in a good handful or two of small oatmeal, and then take whole lettuce, of the best and most inward leaves, whole spinach, whole endive, whole succory, and whole leaves of cauliflower, or the inward parts of white cabbage, with two or three sliced onions; and put all into the pot and boil them well together till the meat be enough, and the herbs so soft as may be, and stir them oft well together; and then season it with salt and as much verjuice as will only turn the taste of the pottage; and so serve them up, covering the meat with the whole herbs, and adorning the dish with sippets.

Sour crab-apple juice; the nearest modern equivalent is apple vinegar.
Slices of toasted bread. Potatoes had only recently been introduced to England, and rice was rarely used.
Pottage without sight of herbs
Some desire to have their pottage green, yet no herbs to be seen in this case. You must take your herbs and oatmeal, and, after it is chopped, put it into a stone mortar, or bowl, and with a wooden pestle beat it exceedingly; then with some of the warm liquor in the pot strain it as hard as may be, and so put it in and boil it.

The recipe is again taken from Markham's The English Housewife (1615)