21st Century Medieval Pottage

21st Century Medieval Pottage

by Linda Duffin

This recipe from Linda Duffin blends old and new to create a wonderfully simple and comforting dish. In essence pottage is a simple vegetable stew, historically made by peasants all across Northern Europe with whatever was to hand. Meat was largely reserved for special occasions, so pottage would be enriched and thickened with pulses or grains. Though pottage was a frugal and inexpensive dish, those that could afford to added imported spices, almonds and rosewater.

The secret ingredient to this dish is poudre douce, an ancient spice mix which gives depth and complexity to what’s otherwise a straightforward lentil and vegetable soup. Poudre Douce mean 'sweet powder' and was a common spice mix in Medieval and Renaissance cookery. Although some recipes include sugar, the sweetness refers to the sweeter spices such as cinnamon, cloves and ginger, which today with associate more with baking than savoury dishes.

Linda runs Mrs Portly's Kitchen Classes in Suffolk and created this recipe while experimenting with lentils for Wakelyns' first Dal Festival, where she was giving a cooking demonstration.

This pottage used a combination of our olive green lentils and whole coral lentils, which had great texture and earthy flavours.

Serves 2


  • 2 tbsp Rapeseed Oil
  • 2 Banana Shallots or 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 large Carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 stick of Celery, trimmed and diced
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • A handful of French Beans, trimmed and cut into lengths
  • 2 small Courgettes, trimmed and chunked
  • 1 tsp Poudre Douce (see below)
  • 100g pre-soaked Olive or Coral Lentils, or a 50/50 mixture
  • 500-600ml good quality Chicken or Veg Stock
  • 1 or 2 Indian Bay Leaves (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Oregano or Marjoram Leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp Parsley, roughly chopped
  • A big handful of Basil Leaves, torn
  • Courgette Flowers (optional)
Poudre douce
  • 2tsp Ground Ginger
  • ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Ground Cloves
  • ¼ tsp Ground Grains of Paradise


  1. Pre-soak the lentils overnight or, if you have a pressure cooker, follow Catherine Phipp's quick method: put the lentils in your pc, cover with water, add salt and 1 tbsp oil, and cook on high pressure for 2 minutes. Let stand for 5 mins, release any remaining pressure and drain.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan big enough to hold everything. Gently fry the onions, sprinkled with a little salt, until soft and golden. Add the carrots and celery and cook for a few more minutes. Now add the garlic and poudre douce, stir and cook gently for another two or three minutes.
  3. Pour in the drained lentils, followed by the beans, courgettes and stock. Add the Indian bay leaf, if using. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for around 15 minutes or until the lentils are soft but still intact and the veg are cooked but still have some bite.
  4. Check the seasoning and just before serving stir through the chopped herbs. Rip the courgette flowers, if using, into lengths and scatter onto the soup, allowing them to wilt in its heat.

Linda Duffin
Linda Duffin


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Recipes for Pulses, Grains, Seeds, Flakes, Flour, Ferments...

Mushy Pea, Parsnip & Potato Cakes
Mushy Pea, Parsnip & Potato Cakes

by The Cook and Him

These pea, parsnip and potato cakes from The Cook and Him are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Marrowfat peas are best known as the traditional pea for making mushy peas though they're also fantastic in soups, dips and casseroles.

Read More

Chocolate, Tahini & Brazil Nut Granola Bars
Chocolate, Tahini & Brazil Nut Granola Bars

by Amy Oboussier

A splendid diversity of flakes, nuts and seeds goes into these easy granola bars, easily adding up to over 12 plant species depending on the mix you choose. This is a great recipe to make with our Granola Bundles.

Read More

Cardamom & Brazil Nut Diversity Granola
Cardamom & Brazil Nut Diversity Granola

by Amy Oboussier

Boost your breakfast's diversity with this granola, packed with flaked grains, seeds and Brazil Nuts, and flavoured with sweet and fragrant vanilla and cardamom.

Read More