Recipes from 1790

Het Receptenboek van mevrouw Marselis (The Recipe Book of Mrs. Marselis) published in 1790 gives a wonderful insight in the household and kitchen of an upper middle-class family in the 18th century. Mrs. Marselis (the lady of the house) wrote down instructions for her cook. Mrs. Marselis enjoyed dinners and lunches when she was visiting friends and family, she read cookbooks and collected recipes. Back home she explained to her cook how to prepare the food that she wanted to be served to her family and guests. Unfortunately she doesn’t include menus, so it’s not clear how her meals looked. She probably served various dishes at once (Service à la Française) as was custom until the mid-19th century.

The cook and her staff (perhaps 4 people) worked many hours in the kitchen downstairs to prepare cakes, beef, fish, chicken, pies, cookies, veal, soups, ragouts etcetera. You won’t find many recipes for vegetables because these were considered to be phlegmatic (slimy, cold, wet) and perhaps even more important, vegetables were eaten by the lower classes.

500 Recipes

She does include a recipe for snow peas: these are cooked in butter and water. Adding chopped onion is optional. When the peas are soft, the cook adds some sweet cream and one or two beaten eggs. And one for spinach: it is cooked until really well done, then chopped and stewed with butter, nutmeg and stock.

Some of the recipes are intriguing, for instance: shrimps are cooked in water with vinegar, anchovies, peppers and mace. When done, the shrimps are combined with cold butter to be served with salmon. Others are very tempting, for instance ravioli with a filing made of veal, parsley, pepper, nutmeg, mace, Parmesan cheese and butter. Sounds yummy!

Mushrooms are also on the menu, so we decided to follow Mrs. Marselis instruction and prepare mushrooms cooked in cream. It’s a rich, tasty sauce that enveloped the pasta very nicely. The combination of mushrooms and nutmeg works remarkably well. One to prepare more often! Recipe this week on Thursday, July 14th.
The pasta was our own idea; Mrs. Marselis doesn’t mention what the sauce is supposed to accompany.

Het Receptenboek van mevrouw Marselis, in Dutch only, is out of print. A second-hand copy will cost approximately € 15,00.

The Queen’s Soup

Actually, this post should be called Potage à la Reine, or even better Koninginnensoep. Before looking at the details, let’s first talk about Dutch Royalty.

The first Dutch Queen (Koningin) was Wilhelmina who reigned from 1898 until 1948. She was succeeded by Queen Juliana and later Queen Beatrix. Their birthdays were always a reason for festivities with lots of food (and lots of beer nowadays). One of the favourite dishes was a soup called Koninginnensoep: a rich, creamy chicken soup with carrots and garden peas. Not very refined, but perfect for the occasion.

The recipe of this soup goes back to France, to chef François Pierre de La Varenne (1618-1678). He is probably the first chef who documented and prepared Potage à la Reine. The soup is made with two kinds of stock (one made with almonds, the other one with partridge or capon), bread, lemon and it is garnished with pomegranate and pistachios. It was prepared in the honour of Queen Marguerite de Navarre.

The Dutch Koninginnensoep is a simplified version of the Potage à la Reine. Some recipes suggest replacing the bread with rice; most suggest making a roux and adding eggs and cream to thicken the soup. The pomegranate is replaced by carrot and the pistachios by garden peas. A practical cheap, Dutch approach…

Enough details, let’s start preparing our version of this traditional soup. After all, today, April 27th, we’re celebrating the King’s birthday! Hurray!

What You Need

  • For the stock
    • Organic Chicken (bones and meat)
    • Carrot
    • Leek
    • Onion
    • Bouquet Garni (Thyme, Parsley, Bay Leaf)
    • Mace (small piece)
    • Olive Oil
  • Flour
  • Almond Flour
  • Butter
  • One Egg Yolk
  • Cream
  • White Pepper
  • Carrot
  • Green peas

What You Do

Gently fry the sliced leek, the chopped carrot and the chopped onion in olive oil. After a few minutes add the chicken. Leave for a few minutes. Add cold water, the bouquet garni, the mace and a piece of carrot. Leave to simmer for one or two hours. Pass through a sieve. Cool the stock and remove the fat. You could do this the day before. Remove the skin and bones from the meat and make cubes the size of garden peas. Same for the carrot. Set aside. 
Combine 30 grams of flour with 10 gram of almond flour and 30 grams of butter (depending on the amount of stock, these quantities are for one liter), make a roux and thicken the soup. Leave on low heat for 60 minutes.
Beat the egg yolk, add cream, mix some more. Add the warm soup to the liquid, one spoon at a time. This is known as marrying the soup and the eggs. When done, add the chicken and leave on low heat for 10 minutes. Stir gently. Add white pepper. In parallel quickly cook the garden peas (one minute will be fine) and warm the carrot cubes.

Garnish the soup with carrot and garden peas.

The Queen's Soup ©cadwu
The Queen’s Soup ©cadwu