As with bread in medieval times, the pottage eaten by rich and poor varied enormously. The rich ate thick pottage, the poor ate thin pottage. Just like modern day soup, the quality of the pottage depended upon its ingredients.
Pottage was the daily staple for everyone in medieval times. Essentially it was a broth in which meat and/or vegetables were boiled, then chopped meat, herbs and pulses added. In other words … a soup stew very similar to what we know today as Scotch Broth.
Pottage could be thick or thin.
Frumenty and morrews were types of thick pottage eaten mainly by wealthy people.
Peasants, by contrast, generally ate thin pottage which was runny, less filling and less nutritious. The recipes for frumenty and morrews commonly called for sugar, saffron, almonds, currants and eggs. For the common people it might as well have called for gold coins. Richer ingredients for wealthy people.
Vegetable pottage was the most common pottage eaten – made from cabbage, leeks, onions and garlic. This kind of pottage was often given an extra flavour by adding herbs or ground nuts and, if available, carrots and turnips. There really were no recipes for these pottages; it was simple food prepared simply.
Read more about medieval pottage recipes.
Today’s modern soups owe their ancestry to the pottage eaters of medieval times.