Medieval soup of root vegetable with pork bacon

Medieval stew & soup of my own making

For the marked event we attended this weekend I made a medieval stew and a soup for our lunch. It was a cold windy and rainy weekend, so eating hearty medieval dishes was perfect.

To make dishes that ordinary people ate in the past you often have to attack it with imagination and knowledge rather than historical sources, because there are so few. This weekend I wanted to make lunch for us two days at a medieval marked event at Vistkøl Monastery. We had a wonderful event and got to talk to a lot of people about spices and mulled wine. For lunch I made a stew and a soup using the knowledge I have of period cooking. I will share the recipes and my thinking below.

Medieval vegetables stew with pork

The stew served with a bit of smoked mackerel

We know that people ate a lot of dishes with grain and pulses and that the most common meats eaten was salted pork and fish. Kale and cabbage was also very common ingrediens. This is my base for the stew I made Saturday. I used a stew I found in a book from Ribe Vikinge Center as a base, but adapted it to what I had at hand.

I used smoked and salted bacon, beans, kale, spring onion, thyme and pearl barley. I boiled the diced bacon, removed it from the pot. Fried the spring onion in butter and added the vegetables and barley to the pot along with cooking water from the bacon. Boiled everything until the barley was done and added the bacon back in along with a bit of fresh thyme. I served it with a bit of smoked mackerel, which wasn’t needed but it was nice.

I didn’t even need to salt the fish as the smoked fish and bacon had added enough salt to the dish. I had borrowed a few spices from our neighbor (I had forgotten all my own spices), so I was able to add a bit of grains of paradise along with some ground mustard but I don’t think either was needed.

I had to cheat a little bit because of what I had available. I had to replace broad beans with Edamame beans – which is of course all wrong, but you can’t buy broad beans in Danish supermarkeds – that is one thing I will have in my garden once I get one. I served the dish with smoked mackerel and it was crazy filling and very tasty. (Find the recipe below the gallery)

Medieval root vegetable soup with pork

It was so tasty!

Sunday we knew it might rain a lot, so I had planed a filling soup for us. Last year at Voergaard Castle we had a soup with root vegetables and bacon that my husband loved, so we wanted to make something similar.

Once again going with what I know of medieval cooking and ingrediens I came up with a recipe. It turned out surprisingly well. I knew I wanted to cook with smoked salted bacon, so we could use the same slap of meat of both dishes and that we wanted root vegetable, so we visited our local supermarked to see what we might fine. We came up with root parsley, carrot and yellow beet (that’s what looks like potatoes in the picture. I also added a few spring of thyme and we had it with coarse wholemeal bread from the baker. I was planing to add in some kale but forgot.

When I tasted the soup to check if it need a bit of “help”, I was surprised at the deep of flavour after just half an hour of cooking. I ended up not adding any spices to the dish as it didn’t need it at all. it was really tasty and I am cooking it for dinner again on the stove tonight with the left over vegetables from the marked. Perfect for a cold and windy autumn evening.

Vegetables stew with pork

A wonderful medieval stew with smoked pork and lots of vegetables
Course Main Dish, Soup & stew
Cuisine Campfire cooking, Historical cooking, Medieval, Renaissance, Viking
Keyword autumn, filling, medieval, viking
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • 250 gram smoked salted bacon cut into dices and cleaned of fat. I used a whole piece of bacon
  • 3 handfuls kale cut finely (I used half a pack of precut kale)
  • 0.5 head cone cabbage or cabbage of any kind
  • 1 cup pearl barley or whole barley that has been soaked overnight
  • 1 cup beans Preferably board beans, but I had to use edamame beans instead - it worked fine
  • 2 spring onion cut into rings, use as much of the onion as possible. Ramsons would also be good.
  • 2 clove garlic cut cursely
  • 5 springs thyme
  • 1 plot butter to fry in - you could properly also use the bacon fat
  • a bit ground mustard (optional)
  • 15 grains grains of paradise ground up (optional)
  • 0.5 smoked mackerel (optional)


  1. Prepare the pork. I cut of all the fat and skin and cut it into big dices
  2. Add the pork to the pot and cover it with water. Boil it until the pork is done
  3. While the pork is boiling, prepare all the other ingredients. Remember to check on the fire, so the pot is actually boiling.
  4. Once the pork is done, remove it from the pot and save the water the pork was cooked in.
  5. Fry up the spices and onion in butter
  6. Add in everything else but the thyme. Add in the water you saved from the pork. Add enough water to cover everything.
  7. Let everything boil until the barley is done.
  8. Add the pork back in and add thyme to taste
  9. Serve by it self or with a bit of smoked fish on top


Medieval root vegetable soup

Warming and filling root vegetable soup inspired by medieval ingrediens and cooking techniques
Course Main Dish, Soup & stew
Cuisine Campfire cooking, Fall, Historical cooking, Medieval, Renaissance, Seasonal cooking
Keyword autumn, filling, medieval, soup
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 5 people


  • 250 grams smoked salted bacon whole piece cut into dices. Remove the fat and skin
  • 2 root parsley diced
  • 2 Carrots diced
  • 1 yellow beet other beat would also work. I am guessing turnip would also be good. I do not recommend using red beets as they tend to color everything a icky purple color.
  • 1 leek cut into rings, wash well
  • 2 onion diced
  • 5 sprigs thyme tie them together, so they are easy to remove
  • butter for frying - or use the pork fat


  1. Fry the onion and leek in butter in the bottom of the pot. Make sure the onions are completely done otherwise they will add the taste of raw leak to everything.

  2. Add the pork once the onion is done.

  3. Add in everything else once the pork is done.
  4. Cover well in water and boil until the root vegetables are done
  5. Check to see if it needs a bit of seasoning. Mine did not

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