Sunday, January 11, 2015

Edwardian Cooking Part One: Majestic Potato Cream Soup

I have always been fascinated by the way that people live. I am particularly interested in how people have lived throughout history, without access to our modern day "conveniences." This is why when the book Edwardian Cooking: the Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Larry Edwards arrived in the store, I couldn't resist for long. (I also love Downton Abbey.) Since the recipes are all really quite simple, I was able to get started right away, too!

As they say, the weather outside is frightful. Highways have been shutting down north, south, east, and west due to car and semitruck pile-ups. Friday seemed like a good day to stay indoors and make some soup. And so I pulled out my new cookbook and got started on Majestic Potato Cream, which, the book tells me, was only ever made when members of King Edward's court were present at dinner or a gala, and is served in smaller bowls due to its incredibly rich flavor. I was also warned that this dish might be too much for modern tastes. Challenge accepted.

What You Need:

  • 2 cups of mashed potatoes
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • paprika
Here's what I did:

I did not have mashed potatoes lying around, so I had to make some by peeling (something I normally hate to do because I like the nutrients one finds in the skins of potatoes) about 4 or 5 small to medium sized potatoes, cubing then boiling then mashing them. I added a little milk to aid in the mashing. Very easy. 

Next, in my larger sauce pan, I whisked together the mashed potatoes, milk (I used whole milk), cream, salt, ground pepper (alas, I had no white, so I think I used black), and allspice (we had Jamaican allspice - no idea if that's terribly different; it smelled right) over medium-high heat. The butter was saved for later. Once it was boiling, I reduced the heat to a simmer and allowed it to cook - with the occasional stir to break up the film that kept forming on the surface - for about 5 minutes.

Something else happened at this point: some of the mixture spilled over onto and beneath the electric burner. This will be important later in the tale, so this gets its own paragraph. 

Moving along... When Greg got home and we were ready to eat (I made this as the main dish along with a vegetable side), I ladled the soup into two bowls, cut two tablespoons-ish of butter from my butter stick and placed one in the middle of each bowl, then sprinkled on some paprika. Voila! Soup is on. 

Perhaps I did not follow the recipe as closely as I was supposed to, or there may have been something wrong with the ingredients I used. Whatever the reason, neither Greg nor I found this potato soup to be anything particularly out of the ordinary. The spices, surely, gave it added flavor and lovely aromas. But too rich for modern tastes? Really? I say nay. It was still very good soup! Quite creamy and easy to eat. (Greg likened it to a squash soup in texture.) Would I make it again? Maybe. The ingredients were few and simple, and I like both of these things.

Next week: the Brussels sprouts side dish that I made to accompany the soup. Also, the stove lit itself on fire. (Told you the soup spillage would become important later.) 


  1. the problem is you used milk. the recipe specifically tells you not to. the recipe calls for heavy cream. or even triple cream.

    1. It calls for 2 cups of milk (I used whole milk) and 1 cup heavy cream. Do you mean that when it called for milk, I should have interpreted it as cream?