Making pottage was essentially the cooking of vegetables and stock in an earthenware pot or cast-iron cauldron - the forerunner to soup making as we know it.
Cooking pottage was an everyday activity for most people in medieval times. In their meagre homes the average peasant would cook pottage in an earthenware pot amongst the hot ashes beside their fire in the down-hearth. If their hut had a beam stretched across it, they had the option of hanging a cauldron (usually a cast-iron one) from it over the fire. The pottage was boiled and stirred occasionally with a ladle or wooden stick called a spartle.
Pottage recipes varied depending upon the vegetables and meat available and, as our page on medieval pottage explains, peasants tended to be able to make only thin pottage with the thicker and more tasty pottages (frumenty and morrews) being enjoyed by the wealthy.
The most common vegetables used in making pottage were onions, leeks, celery, white cabbage, garden peas. Saffron strands were sometimes used in making pottage to add colour and extra flavour but generally only the wealthy could afford saffron.
Medieval herbs and spices were an extra source of flavouring. Common herbs used in pottage recipes included parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary. Common spices included cloves, nutmeg and cinammon.