Elizabethan Chicken Potage (or Broth)

The Good Huswife's Jewell, published in 1587, describes this dish as a 'very good potage to be used in the morning'. The old idea that people in the sixteenth century went to work on a sip of weak ale and some bread and cheese doesn't really sound right to me. Before a day's farming, laundering or other physical work they would have needed something substantial that could keep hunger at bay until the evening. 

The recipe tells us to 'seethe' chicken in 'some other good herbs that you like', simmer it together and then strain. You're then to dip a small pieces of bread in the broth until it is also 'tender', and then serve with the chicken and the herby broth.

It was delicious, proper old comfort food. And as for writing it up and sharing it with you, there was something about the chicken being 'ready to fall apeeces' and cooked in herby broth that I couldn't resist. If you love a good chicken soup that comforts and  sticks to your lips - whether you're off toiling the fields or not - then this is one for you.

Elizabethan Chicken Potage (Broth) 
From The Good Huswife's Jewell, 1587.


3-4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin off
freshly chopped parsley, about a handful
small pinch of freshly chopped rosemary
1 chicken stock cube
salt and pepper, to taste
2 slices traditional (not supermarket style) baker's bread


Pour 500ml water into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. 

Once the water is simmering, gently drop in the chicken thighs, the stiock cube and add the herbs. Allow to cook gently for about 30 minutes. Keep checking, and when it's ready the chicken should be falling from the bone. 

Prepare two serving bowls. Cut the bread into small strips and place in the bottom of the bowls. Lift out the cooked chicken thighs and place onto the bread strips, ladling the broth over the top. Season with salt and pepper. 

You might also like these recipes for Tudor Tartes of Cheese, Tudor Spinach Fritters and Tudor-Inspired Strawberry and White Wine Jam. You can find all my other recipes so far here

Want to see more posts like this? Sign up to my newsletter!