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Medieval Recipe Translations

Oyle soppes

PERIOD: England, 15th century | SOURCE: Harleian MS 4016 | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: Onion-ale soup served over bread


Oyle soppes. ¶ Take a good quantite of onyons, and myce hem, noyt to smale, & seth hem in faire water, And take hem vppe; and then take a good quantite of stale ale, as .iij. galons, And there-to take a pynte of goode oyle that is fraied, and cast the onyons there-to, And lete al boyle togidre a grete wile; and caste there-to Saffron and salt, And þen put brede, in maner of brewes, and cast the licour there-on, and serue hit forth hote.

- Austin, Thomas. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books. Harleian MS. 279 & Harl. MS. 4016, with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1429, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS 55. London: for The Early English Text Society by N. Trübner & Co., 1888.


Take a good quantity of onions, and mince them, not to small, & boil them in fair water, And take them up; and then take a good quantity of stale ale, as 3 gallons, And there-to take a pint of good oil that is fried, and cast the onions there-to, And let all boil together a great while; and cast there-to Saffron & salt, And then put bread, in manner of brews, and cast the liquid there-on, and serve it forth hot.


  • Onions, cut in medium-sized pieces.
  • Ale - this should be flat (stale).
  • Oil
  • Saffron
  • Salt
  • Day-old bread slices

Boil the onions until only partially cooked; remove from the water and allow to completely dry. When dry, fry the onions in hot oil until completely cooked through; remove from oil. In a large soup pot, combine ale, onions, saffron, & salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and continue to cook for approx. 15 minutes to ½ hour.

Cut the bread slices (sans crust) into small strips or squares; place these in the bottom of your serving bowl or in individual soup bowls. Ladle the hot soup over the bread, then serve it forth!


A Boke of Gode CookeryMedieval Recipe Translations

Oyle soppes © 2000 James L. Matterer

Medieval Recipe Translations

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