Jan 12 2015

Sowpys Dorry (Onion Soup)

So, I have never been a big fan of soup. Being a vegetarian – even as a kid – meant my soup options were extremely limited. I was also picky and didn’t like tomatoes, which further limited my choices. I’m still not hugely keen on soups aside from this one onion-cheddar-potato soup I made a few years ago and has become my staple soup for winter.

I included soups in the poll, though, because part of the experience here is trying new things and being open to the possibility that maybe a medieval soup would actually be right up my alley.

The runner-up in last week’s poll was onion soup, so that’s what I made this week.



The Process:

I rolled the four yellow onions around a bit before peeling off their skin; this loosens the skin and makes it so much easier to peel them. I then chopped them up. Pro tip: I cut them near my hood vent and had that on high, which kept my eyes from burning and watering. I parboiled them for five minutes (put them in boiling water until slightly soft), then removed and strained them.


At this point, the recipe – which had not listed oil at all in the ingredients list – called for oil. I took a moment and looked at the original text in Middle English, which mentioned “oyle dolyf.” Olive oil! I had no idea how much I was supposed to use (no ingredient listed meant no measure, either), but I poured a thin layer across the bottom of a soup pot and set the burner to low. The original medieval recipe called to “fry” the onions, but this usually means sautée – just in a deep pot instead of a pan.


Once the oil was hot – which I could tell by the convection lines on the surface of the oil – I added the onions. Careful when you do this! There is still water on the onions and that will make the oil pop. I added all the onions quickly, which actually reduced the amount of spatter I dealt with.


The recipe then calls for you to add almost an entire bottle of dry wine. When I picked up my wine at the store, I failed to notice that I grabbed a sweet Riesling, which definitely changed the flavor of the soup. I suspect it would be much better with a good dry wine, such as a Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc. Don’t go too cheap on the wine – a good wine will make a good soup!

After adding a cup of almond milk and a bit more stewing and soaking, it was ready.


The recipe calls for you to place a piece of toast in the bottom of your bowl for “sops.” I was wary but wanted to try to be as authentic as possible, so I did as the recipe instructed.


It looked okay, but as I dug my spoon in, I quickly realized that things were not okay.


Oh. That’s… that’s not good at all. 

I tried several bites – both with and without the sopping bread in there – and the texture was not good. I couldn’t continue. I poured out the bowl and was determined to try again – glad I’d reserved a piece of toast just in case it didn’t work.



I poured a fresh bowl of soup and tore off pieces of my toast and used those to sop up the soup. It was much better. I quickly shredded some cheddar – remembering the onion-cheddar-potato soup of years past – and added a few pieces to each piece of soup-soaked bread. That was very tasty.


I’m still not a fan of soup. This recipe seems more like an onion broth than an actual soup. I’d like to see it with more milk/cream in it and possibly cheese. I would definitely recommend trying it, though – so long as you use a dry wine. Keep a bit of sharp cheddar on-hand to add a little more flavor to your dipping bread. I’d be interested if people find croutons to work well in this soup!

Recipe: (modified)

Note: the original recipe calls for you to make your own almond milk using a half cup of the wine, a half cup of the reserved onion water, and 2 oz of almonds. Almond milk is a huge pain to make, in my experience, and so I find using store-bought almond milk to work just fine. I use unflavored, unsweetened almond milk.

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) room temperature dry white wine
  • 1 cup almond* milk
  • 3-4 large yellow onions, minced or thinly sliced
  • olive oil (enough to just cover the bottom of your soup pot)
  • toasted bread
  • sharp cheddar cheese (optional; turns recipe from vegan to vegetarian)

* You can use regular milk if you prefer or if you have an almond allergy. This obviously turns the recipe from vegan to vegetarian.

Mince/slide up the onions. Parboil for five minutes. Remove and drain.

Spread a thin layer of olive oil across the bottom of a large stew/soup pot. Set burner on low. Once hot, stir in the onions. Cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes; stir occasionally. Add bottle of wine (feel free to keep half a glass reserved for yourself if you want that full Julia Child experience!). Cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Add the almond milk and stir, then let it cook another couple of minutes. I recommend getting your toast going at this point. Shred some cheddar if you like.

The recipe says “salt to taste” once the soup is done, but I suggest you leave that up to individuals.

Let me know if you try this at home! If you do – did you change anything? Add more

One comment on “Sowpys Dorry (Onion Soup)

  1. Pingback: Medieval Vegetarian » Blog Archive » Candied Orange Peels (Orengat)

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