Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Fine English Cookery

Fine English Cookery

by Michael Smith, Geraldene Holt (Foreword by)

See All Formats & Editions

These recipes are taken from cookery books collected over many years and spanning several centuries.

English food has long been overshadowed by the cuisines of Continental Europe but now, with a new generation of chefs adding novel twists to traditional recipes, it is enjoying a renewed vitality and rerum to popularity. Michael Smith's highly acclaimed book is


These recipes are taken from cookery books collected over many years and spanning several centuries.

English food has long been overshadowed by the cuisines of Continental Europe but now, with a new generation of chefs adding novel twists to traditional recipes, it is enjoying a renewed vitality and rerum to popularity. Michael Smith's highly acclaimed book is centered on recipes from the eighteenth century, before the Industrial Revolution wrought such dreadful damage to English cooking and the influx of French chefs after 1789 did so much to change culinary fashions.

Traditionally, English cooking is generous in its use of herbs and spices and adventurous in its combining of flavors. This collection contains such delights as mustard soup, baked sea bass with fennel, mushroom soup with madeira, salmon in red wine, butter'd oranges and a full range of potted meats and fishes. Based on the wide variety of ingredients found in a temperate climate, traditional English cookery was on occasion rich and heavy, but more often than not nutritious and healthy, as recipes for fried cucumber with dill, parsley soup, pippin pie and gooseberry and rosemary ice-cream all testify.

Product Details

Serif Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Fine English Cookery

By Michael Smith

Serif Books

Copyright © 2015 Michael Smith
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-909150-57-7



Many of the soups which follow can be served either hot or chilled: a great advantage of the latter is, of course, that they involve no last-minute preparation. Remember to serve chilled soup in chilled cups.

Often, where a filling menu is to follow, it is good practice with chilled soups to abandon the more traditional soup cup or plates and serve in teacups, providing good old-fashioned large teaspoons with which to eat it.


I well remember the time, years ago, when a customer sent for me and remarked, 'This soup is stone cold, I swear it has never seen the sight, of a pan!'

Those were the days when a cold soup near caused a revolution!

1 litre/2 pints chicken stock
175 g/6 oz sweet flaked almonds
60 ml/2 fl oz nut oil
30 g/1 oz plain flour
175 ml/1/3 pint single cream
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Flaked almonds for garnish

Simmer the almonds and stock together for 20 minutes. Squeeze them hard through a clean, unstarched linen towel.

Heat the oil over a very low heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Stir in the flour away from the heat. Gradually add the strained almond stock and bring to the boil, stirring continuously to avoid lumping. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for a further 10 minutes over a low heat.

Strain again through a fine sieve and put aside to cool in a bowl. Cover with an oiled paper cut to fit the surface area of the soup. (If you use a buttered paper, the butter will harden when the soup is cold.) When cold, transfer to the refrigerator and chill well.

Before serving, whip the cream until the whisk leaves an obvious trail which takes a few seconds to subside. Fold the cream into the soup. Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh flaked almonds.

An alternative and equally good way of making tins soup is to put the stock and almonds through the blender. This will give you a slightly thicker soup than the original recipe, so have a little more clear chicken stock chilled and at the ready to thin it down if you so wish. The finished soup should well coat the back of a dessertspoon not a wooden spoon, as liquid clings too readily to the wood and is not a good indication of consistency.


Half a large white cabbage
3 medium-sized onions
1 crushed clove garlic
4 large green apples
60 g/2 oz butter

1 ½ litres/3 pints vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp castor sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp green ginger

Finely shred the cabbage and slice the onions. Peel and core the apples and cut into even-sized pieces.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan, taking care not to let it colour. Add the cabbage, onions and apples and sweat over a low heat, tossing the pan frequently. Add the garlic and cover with the cold stock.

Simmer until the cabbage is just tender. Pass through a blender or Mouli. Season with salt, pepper and the sugar.

Re-heat the soup and serve with a little chopped green ginger in each bowl.


An extravagant soup unless you are in the habit of visiting backstreet markets on Saturdays when this sort, of luxury can often be found cheaply.

A bundle of fresh asparagus (about 500 g/1 lb)
1 small onion
400 ml/¾ pint chicken stock
125 g/4 oz butter
60 g/2 oz flour
400 ml/¾ pint extra chicken stock (double-strength)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
¼ litre/½ pint double cream
Grated rind of 1 lime

First slice the onion. Remove the asparagus tips and reserve for garnishing. Cut away the tough ends of the asparagus, scrape the stems clean and cut these into inch-long pieces.

Melt the butter over a low heat, add the asparagus pieces and the sliced onions and sweat them until they are tender, tossing the pan at regular and frequent intervals. Add the ordinary stock and simmer until the stalks are really tender.

Add the flour and stir in well. Add the double-strength stock and stir until the soup boils. Season to taste at this stage.

Pass the soup through a hair sieve or Mouli, as asparagus tends to be stringy like celery and strings get left behind with most blenders.

Cool the soup before putting in the refrigerator and chilling well.

Steam the asparagus tips until tender. Cool, then chill. Half-whip the cream until it is just beginning to stand in peaks. Finally fold in the cream, leaving it to 'marble' the soup. Top with a little grated lime rind and serve garnished with the asparagus tips.

BEETROOT SOUP (Hot or Chilled)

This is not meant to be in any. may like Borscht. The soup should be a good bright red colour and it is essential that the beetroots are well washed of arty soil before use or a stale favour will permeate.

500 g/1 lb cooked beetroots
250 g/8 oz chopped onion
60 g/2 oz butter (or 4 tbsp olive oil if the soup is to be chilled)
1 stick celery
2 crushed cloves garlic
Juice and rind of 1 orange
½ litre/1 pint chicken stock
½ tsp powdered rosemary
1 tsp sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the onion and cook without browning until it is transparent. Add the garlic, celery and stock and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile peel the beetroots and cut them into even-sized pieces, then add them to the stock and cook for 5 minutes only. Add the orange juice and rind and seasonings.

Remove the celery before passing the soup through a blender or Mouli; check the seasoning and serve.

If served chilled, a good teaspoon of freshly chopped chives can be added, together with a little grated orange rind, to each cup, and a segment of orange can be slipped over the rim.


Whilst I am very fond of beetroot, I have never been totally satisfied with the average recipe for beetroot soup in this country. I have therefore devised a soup using two popular vegetables, with orange, as these are vegetables and a fruit that have been popular here for centuries.

375 g/¾ lb cooked beetroot
1 large cucumber
10 medium-sized spring onions
A handful of fresh parsley
2 oranges
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
400 ml/¾ pint cold chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel the beetroots and grate them on the coarse side of a grater. Peel the cucumber, cut it in half lengthways and scrape out all the seeds with a teaspoon. Grate this also on the coarse side of a grater.

Cut off the coarsest part of the green of the onions, but retain as much as you can. Clean them well and slice them very finely. Grate the rind of the oranges and squeeze the juice. Chop the parsley.

Put all these ingredients into a large bowl, add the vinegar and two-thirds of the cold chicken stock and season well. Retain one-third of the stock so that you can adjust the consistency of the soup. Chill well before serving, adding the olive oil at the last minute to give the soup a bright colour.

With a soup of this nature there is little need to serve breads or crackers as there is a deal of body about it. A twist of orange peel or a segment of orange, slotted onto the edge of the cup, is a good luxurious touch.


Often pretentiously called Crécy after the battle of that name. The carrot has been with us in England since Charles I's days and is still a popular vegetable and soup, not to be missed out of any English recipe book.

300 g/10 oz carrots (peeled weight)
175 g/6 oz onion
2 crushed cloves garlic
¾ litre/1 ½ pints chicken stock
100 g/3 oz butter
¼ litre ½ pint single cream
1 tsp castor sugar
30 g/1 oz plain flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Grate the carrots and onion on the coarse side of a grater.

Melt one-third of the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. Put in the grated onion and cook until transparent. Add the carrot and the garlic. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat and sweat for 10 minutes.

Pour on the stock and cream and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for half an hour. Towards the end of the simmering period add the seasoning and sugar.

Gently melt the rest of the butter in a smaller pan and stir in the flour. Bit by bit whisk this mixture into the simmering soup until the required thickness is achieved.

Do not strain. For extra richness, add an egg-yolk beaten with a little cream.


Root vegetables are often wrongly put into a social class beneath their status; this soup is refreshingly tasty and colourful and is also delicious when served chilled; olive oil is then used instead of butter as the latter has a tendency, even when emulsified, to set hard.

375 g/12 oz carrots (peeled weight)
175 g/6 oz onion
The white part of 1 large leek
2 oranges with the grated rind of one and juice of both
1 litre/2 pints chicken stock
As much curry powder as will cover a new halfpenny
1 crushed clove garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
60 g/2 oz butter (or 4 tbsp olive oil if the soup is to be served chilled)

Coarsely chop the vegetables. Gently heat the butter (or oil) in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the vegetables and gently sweat them for 10 minutes, keeping the pan covered with a lid. Take care not to let the vegetables get the slightest bit brown this would add an unwanted flavour.

Add the curry powder, garlic, orange rind, stock and juice. Season lightly. Continue to cook until the carrots are just tender. Pass the soup through a blender or Mouli.

The finished soup should be full-bodied but not too thick. Reheat and add the sugar. Chill well if serving cold.


Everybody has his or her own special version of a dish; this is mine, as it leaves the florets intact and makes a more interesting soup, completely without the odious smell so often associated with it when badly made. The addition to each bowl of a poached or lightly boiled egg, whichever is easier, makes this a splendid soup for a soup and cheese lunch.

1 medium-sized very white and firm cauliflower
½ litre/1 pint chicken stock
½ litre/1 pint milk
30 g/1 oz plain flour
60 g/2 oz butter
Grated nutmeg
1 poached or lightly boiled egg per person (optional)

Divide the cauliflower into fingertip-sized florets. Patience at this stage will prove to be very rewarding.

Bring the stock to the boil. Drop in the florets and poach gently for 7 minutes, no longer, for the secret of this soup is to have the florets cooked but firm. Lift out the florets and place on one side.

Add the milk to the stock and bring to the boil.

In a second small pan, melt the butter, stir in the flour and blend well. Whisk this mixture into the now gently boding milk and stock. Simmer the soup over a low heat for 5 minutes.

Season with salt and a little grated nutmeg, about the tip of a teaspoon at first. Add more if you like the combination.

Strain the soup into a clean pan, add the florets and re-heat carefully. Serve with poached or lightly boiled eggs if liked.


I cannot remember a Christmas in my home when this richest of soups was not served, but I think it should come into our repertoire earlier in the season. II The chestnut came to us with the Romans and there is said to be a tree in Gloucestershire which has been there since around 1100 AD.

At. Christmastime the soup can be made two days before and kept in the refrigerator.

4 dozen peeled chestnuts (or 250 g/8 oz dried chestnuts,
covered with boiling water and left to soak overnight)
125 g/4 oz potatoes (the floury sort that collapse easily are ideal)
175 g/6 oz carrots
1 stick celery
2 rashers good-flavoured green bacon
125 g/4 oz onion
60 g/2 oz butter
1 ½ litres/3 pints chicken stock
¼ tsp powdered mace
1 teacup dry Madeira
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crisp-fried bacon rolls to garnish

Cut the de-rinded bacon into striplets and fry in the butter until crisp. Chop the onion roughly and add to the bacon, cooking until soft and golden coloured. Add the celery, carrot and potato cut into even-sized pieces. Add the chestnuts. Toss these around in the pan and cover with the cold stock. Simmer until the chestnuts are tender. (Allow at least 1 ½ hours for this.)

Pass soup through a blender or Mouli and add the Madeira. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and mace. If the soup is too solid, add more chicken stock.

Garnish with miniature crisply fried bacon rolls.


A rich English chicken soup surpasses any of its Continental rivals, but take care, for it can be a meal in itself.

1 roasting chicken, 1 ¼ kg/2½ lb dressed weight
1 onion
1 leek
1 large carrot
1 good blade of mace
Water to cover
125 g/4 oz butter
100 g/3 oz flour
Juice of half a lemon
¼ litre/½ pint single cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

Peel, wash and cut all the vegetables into even-sized pieces. Fit the chicken into a pan and cover with cold water, add the vegetables, mace, salt and pepper and bring to the boil slowly. Simmer until the bird is tender. This should not take much longer than 45 minutes. Strain the liquid, cool and skim off tire fat.

In a second pan large enough to contain the finished soup, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Gradually add 1 ¼ litres/2 ½ pints of die strained chicken stock until a smooth soup is arrived at.

Save the chicken legs for sandwiches, etc. Cut the breasts into ¼-inch dice.

Add the cream to the soup, and then the lemon juice. Finally, add the diced meat, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.

For a very special occasion, mix a couple of egg-yolks with the cream and stir in at the last minute.

CITIZEN'S SOUP (Hot or Chilled)

If sophistication means the disguising of basics with elegance, style and many faceted tastes, then this soup is very sophisticated, with its bittersweet back taste, its unusual olive-green colour and its 'tweedy' texture. It scores high as an appetiser and for this reason alone I commend it to the guest table. It is good served chilled, garnished when cold with plenty of chopped chives and parsley.

In the seventeenth century there were two versions of this soup, a winter and a spring version. I have based my recipe on the latter.

1 cucumber
60 g/2 oz unsalted butter
1 medium-sized onion
I small head celery (about 150 g/5 oz when cleaned and
stripped of its outside stalks)
1 small head chicory
60 g/2 oz small frozen peas
1 small round lettuce
1/4 litre/1 pint chicken stock
A sprig of basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Chopped chives and parsley to garnish
(when the soup is served cold)

De-seed the cucumber by cutting it in half lengthways after peeling, then drawing a teaspoon down the centre, thus removing the seeds and pulp. Cut the cucumber into 1-inch cubes.

Roughly chop the onion, celery and chicory and shred the lettuce.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan without letting it brown. Add the onions and celery, cover with a lid and sweat over a low heat until they are softened but not brown.

Add the cucumber and chicory, cover with a lid and cook for 5 more minutes, tossing the pan occasionally to prevent colouring. Add the stock and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. The soup will give off scum so remove this with a skimmer or tablespoon.

Add the shredded lettuce, peas and basil and cook for just 5 more minutes; any longer and you will lose the bright green colour.

Pass the whole contents of the pan through a blender or Mould (If a blender is used, take care not to over-emulsify the soup, as a fairly coarse texture is preferable.) Re-heat and serve.

If old celery is used there may be a tendency for this to leave strings when pureed. The celery should be carefully peeled as you would do with rhubarb, or a Mouli used instead of a blender.


This soup was popular as Jar back as the sixteenth century. It is light and tasty and a good way of using up chicken stock. It is also so quick and easy to make that I give the ingredients for individual portions.

For each serving you will need:

175 ml/1/3 pint well seasoned, strong-flavoured Fresh chicken stock
Half an egg
1 dessertspoon tiny cubes of Cheddar
1 tsp chopped chives or parsley

Bring the stock to the boil and skim well. Beat the eggs and whisk into tire soup.

Pour the soup into heated bowls, add the cheese and chives to each bowl and serve the soup whilst the cheese is still melting.


Excerpted from Fine English Cookery by Michael Smith. Copyright © 2015 Michael Smith. Excerpted by permission of Serif Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Michael Farris Smith has been awarded the Transatlantic Review Award, Brick Streets Press Short Story Award, Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Arts Fellowship, and the Alabama Arts Council Fellowship Award for Literature. He is a graduate of Mississippi State and the Center for Writers at Southern Miss. He lives in Columbus, Mississippi, with his wife and two daughters.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews