5. Mushroom and onion soup

This recipe from Marx Rumpoldt’s cookbook of 1581 can also be found in Plain Fare: A Period Camp Cookbook by Volker Bach.

I am becoming more curious about which resources would have been available to me as a cook in Norway.  Here’s what I found after a quick check in a couple of resources… more research needed to put this in context, but interesting nonetheless. Henry Notaker (p. 245) suggests that mushrooms, along with a number of other food stuffs, were not utilized as food, and even treated with contempt in the 18th c.  Further, he mentions onions as one of the new cultivated plants brought to Norway with the spread of monasteries in the 13c CE (p. 19).  Kari Loe Hjelle’s article looks at archaeobotanical finds from Norway’s three central cities, Trondheim, Bergen and Oslo during the hanseatic period.  In the list of foodstuffs, onions can be found (p. 174), but there is no mention of mushrooms whatsoever.

Not promising, but onions and mushrooms are yummy, so time to pull the “Creative” trump.


Giano Balestriere (Volker Bach).  Plain Fare: A Period Camp Cookbook.  2011.  Downloaded May 07, 2012.

Karg, Sabine, ed.  Medieval Food Traditions in Northern Europe.  Publications from the National Museum, Studies in archaeology & history, vol. 12.  Copenhagen: National Museum of Denmark, 2007.  ISBN: 978-87-7602-065-1.  In particular, ch. 7, Foreign trade and local production - plant remains from medieval times in Norway / Kari Loe Hjelle.

Notaker, Henry.  Ganens makt: norsk kokekunst og matkultur gjennom tusen år.  Oslo: Aschehoug, 1993.  ISBN: 82-03-26009-8.

The Venture

The recipe is on page 10 of Plain Fare.  This cookbook gives original text, translation and redaction.  The redactions give some suggested quantities, but not an exact recipe in modern terms.

I used roughly the following in this last portion:

  • one good lob of butter
  • 3 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 220g fresh mushrooms, chopped (a shy ½ pound)
  • 1,5 liters vegetable stock (ca. 6 c.)
  • 0,5 dl white wine vinegar (ca. ¼ c.)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt (plus more as needed at end)
  • ¼ teaspoon loosely packed safron

Cook the onions in butter until transluscent, add mushrooms, stock and seasonings.  Simmer on low heat for as long as you can wait (1-2 hours)

The Verdict

This soup has become a staple comfort food in our house.  I have cooked it many times using different varieties of dried mushrooms as available as well as fresh.  Each repetition has been a new learning opportunity.  I have never really cooked with wine vinegar or saffron before, so I started very cautiously, adding a little more each round.   NOM!

(originally posted to LiveJournal: April 9, 2013)