Cinnamon Soup

This was a fun one. I don’t normally make purely authentic recipes on this blog. As all the posts the last two years show, I prefer taking inspiration from the past rather than trying to recreate it. But with so many primary recipe sources written during the late middle ages, I figured I should probably try some of them.

This recipe comes from Le Menagier de Paris, a kind of instructional manual for a housewife of 1393. I picked it because it felt particular evocative of the era to me. Poultry Broth, thickened with almonds and heavily spiced? I mean what sounds more Medieval than that?


Cut up your poultry or other meat, then cook in water and add wine, and fry: then take raw almonds with the skin on unpeeled, and a great quantity of cinnamon, and grind up well, and mix with your stock or with beef stock, and put to boil with your meat: then grind ginger, clove and grain, etc., and let it be thick and yellow-brown.

Mm, thick and yellow brown! We’re subbing in black pepper for the grains of paradise which I don’t have access to, but otherwise I followed this recipe pretty much to the letter, even the “great quantity of cinnamon”. Eep. The end product is definitely unusual to my modern palate, but not bad at all! It tastes more like Indian food than European to me, but for the late middle ages, that’s to be expected.

My interpretation of this recipe is 1 part ground almonds, 2 parts chicken meat, 4 parts chicken broth, and then like .5 parts of the cinnamon and spices. Your quantities may vary.

If you already have chicken broth and poultry meat around, you can skip step one, but I began this recipe by making a nice chicken stock. Just put chicken parts, onions, other aromatics, spices and herbs into a pot and cover with water, simmering on low for 2-4 hours. Homemade chicken stock is worth the wait!

Strain and let the meat cool off before shredding it.

When ready to make the soup, melt some butter in a pot over medium-high heat, and fry your chicken meat in it until crispy and browned. Deglaze with some white wine. When the wine has mostly cooked off (after a minute or two), add the chicken broth and bring it up to a low boil.

Add the ground almonds and that heavy dose of spices, and let it heavily simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring often until it thickens and loses its grittiness for a smoother texture.

Yup that’s definitely yellow brown.

But really, it’s interesting! Nutty and fragrant. Of course the spice level is a bit much, but I like the almond meal as the primary thickener for a soup. I think if you dialed back the cinnamon a significant degree, and maybe added a few more veggies or legumes to the final soup, this could be a nice cup of comfort on a cold day.

Or go Medieval with a “great quantity” of spice, to grow some hair on your chest for the European winter. You’re gonna need it.

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