COMPETITION FOR MARCH CROWN
Soups or Stews
given the limitations described below
Early spring was perhaps the hardest time of the year for the cook. The winter stores were nearly gone but the garden was not yet yielding much.
Animal Products: The hens were just beginning to lay, so eggs were still in limited supply and the cow or goat hadn’t birthed yet, so... no milk. Fresh meat was in short supply as your breading stock hadn’t yet reproduced or if they had, the offspring were too young to butcher. For fresh meat most would be dependent on field and stream. You might have some salted or dried meats left. You might still have some cheese.
Fats: You would have no butter, but you might have some fats left from cooking, but even that would be in short supply. You also had to use those fats to keep anything made of leather in good shape. If you were in the Mediterranean, you would probably have olive oil.
Vegetables: You would likely still have some root vegetables left: onions, garlic, turnips, carrots, parsnips, dandelion roots, burdock roots, chicory roots. You might have dried peas and beans, however most beans except garbanzos and favas (broad beans), are new world, and of course favas are not a true bean but a vetch, which puts it in the pea family. There would be a few mushrooms coming up in the woods and perhaps a few new fern shoots. Your garden might have a very few lettuces beginning to come up. You might have sauerkraut and some other pickled vegetables left.
Fruit: For the most part the only fruit you would have would be that which you dried last autumn. Canning hadn’t come into existence yet and if you put fruit down in crocks with honey, it would be gone by now. You might have a few rather tired apples and quince left, and if you were wealthy, you might have oranges and lemons in your “orangery.” In the Mediterranean you would have olives. There may still be some flour left in the flour barrel and you would have some other grains if you hadn’t fed them all to your livestock.
Seasoning: Refined salt if you were wealthy, coarse salt if you were not, pepper if you could afford it, mustard, honey, limited amounts of sugar. You would have whatever herbs you dried last season. Vinegar. Vinegar was used as a seasoning as well as a preservative. Most of you would have ale and cider. Beans and peas were often cooked in ale. Pork, including dried pork, was often cooked in cider. If you could afford it, of course wine would be available.
Go to it. Have fun. You ought to be able to come up with some very tasty soups, stews and other pottages.