Brown Windsor soup

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Brown Windsor soup
Type Soup
Place of origin Great Britain
Main ingredients Lamb or beef steak, parsnips, carrots, leeks, bouquet garni, Madeira wine

Brown Windsor soup is a supposed hearty British meat soup that is said by conventional wisdom to have been popular during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.[1][2][3]

Origins and history[edit]

It is unclear whether this often-written-about soup is indeed Victorian, or was invented as a joke in the 1950s – perhaps conflating the well-known white Windsor soup[A] with the equally famous Brown Windsor soap.[B][C] Some web sources claim there are no references to "Brown Windsor soup" prior to a joke mention, or invention, in the 1953 Ealing Studios film comedy The Captain's Paradise.[4][5] Another associates it with Calves' Feet Soup à la Windsor, created for the "post-natal Queen Victoria" by Charles Elmé Francatelli, her chef.[6][D] Etymologist Michael Quinion finds the earliest references is from 1943, in The Fancy, by Monica Dickens.[2] Quinion speculates on three theories: that Brown Windsor soup may be confused with White Windsor soup, a type of soup which unquestionably existed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries appearing on many menus.[2] Or it may be confused with Brown Windsor soap, which also existed in this period. Or finally it may be a mashup term conflating White Windsor soup with Brown Windsor soap. In any case, "it became shorthand for awful food," and was used as a prop by comics in the post war years.[2] In short, Quinion suggests at least three possible theories as to the origin of the name and posits that resolution awaits further research.[2]

As to the name, a few early White Windsor soup recipes included the use of Windsor fava beans, perhaps the origin of the name.[2] Quinion says there is no connection to the royal family itself since Windsor soup predates 1917, when the family changed its name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor.[2] He also adds that fictional barrister Rumpole of the Bailey mentioned eating it on the Great Western Railway in a book of short stories dated 1978 — although Quinion questions whether this is an endorsement of the soup, "the extract confirms that the soup was at one time a staple of the restaurant menus of British Railways."[7]

Some people defend the traditional story, food writer Alan Davidson in The Oxford Companion to Food (2006) refers to an elaborate late Victorian recipe in Garrett's Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery from 1890,[8][9] although Davidson does not make clear if Garrett's recipe is for a "Brown" Windsor Soup, nor does he explain why if the soup was so popular, there is hardly anything in the historical record about it.

Notwithstanding that its earliest origins are analogized to being a folkloric gustatory chimera, there are many recipes, and they often reassert or embellish the myth.[3][10][11][12]

In popular culture[edit]

British magazine, The Poke, sold a satirical can of Brown Windsor Soup as part of a "Jubilee Collection," available for about 40, complete with Silver spoon and reportedly made "directly from the sewage outflow of Windsor Castle."[13]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "White Windsor Soup (recipes)". The Foods of England. Retrieved March 25, 2014.  including one by Auguste Escoffier.
  2. ^ Staff writer (16 April 2013). "Brown Windsor Soup (including Madeira recipe)". The Foods of England. The Foods of England. Retrieved May 5, 2013.  It is also claimed that there are "over 1400" written references to the soup. Staff writer. "Brown Windsor Information". The Foods of England. The Foods of England. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ Ostensibly, the soap was a display at the 1851 Great Exhibition and is perfumed with Bergamot, Caraway, Cinnamon and Clove oils. "Brown Windsor Soap". Dr. Dulcamara's Pots & Potions. Retrieved March 22, 2014.  Detailed instructions on how to make Brown Windsor Soap and Old Brown Windsor Soap were published in Piessem, G.W.S. (1855/July 11, 2008). The art of perfumery and the methods of obtaining the odours of plants: how to make perfumes, scented powders, aromatic vinegars, dentifrices, pomatums, cosmetics, perfumed soap and more. U.S: Better Days Books. ISBN 143574120X.  Check date values in: |date= (help) ISBN 978-1435741201 and Cristiani, R.S. (1881). A Technical Treatise on Soap and Candles. Philadelphia/London: Henry, Carey, Baird & Co./Sampson, Searl, Low, Marston & Rivington. p. 404.  at Internet Archive, respectively. See, Irena. "Windsor Soap". Retrieved March 24, 2014.  for formulae.
  4. ^ Calves' Feet Soup à la Windsor "A creamed soup of boiled calves’ feet, celery and other vegetables, cream, white wine, and raw yolks for final thickening." Whitehead, Jessup (1903). The steward's handbook and guide to party catering. Chicago, Illinois: Jessup Whitehead & Co. p. 263. Retrieved 25 March 2014.  at Internet Archive.


  1. ^ Hibbert, Christopher. Queen Victoria: A Personal History. New York: Da Capo Press. p. 469. ISBN 0-306-81085-9. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Quinion, Michael (15 March 2014). "Brown Windsor Soup". World Wide Words Newsletter (873). World Wide Words. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b French Tart (September 21, 2009). "Queen Victoria's Brown Windsor Soup (recipe)". Retrieved March 22, 2014. 
  4. ^ Lovefood Team (27 February 2013). "The curious tale of Brown Windsor soup". Love Food. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  5. ^ Staff writer (20 February 2013). "Brown Windsor Information". The Foods of England. The Foods of England. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  6. ^ The Old Foodie. "Windsor Soup". Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  7. ^ Quinion, Michael (22 March 2014). "Brown Windsor soup". World Wide Words Newsletter (874). World Wide Words. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  8. ^ Garrett, Theodore Francis (ed.) (nd c1890). Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery. London: L. Upcott Gill.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ Davidson, Alan (2006). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 735. ISBN 0-19-280681-5. 
  10. ^ "Brown Windsor Soup (recipe)". Retrieved March 23, 2014.  with Madeira wine
  11. ^ Lagasse, Emeril (2001). "Brown Windsor Soup". Live. Retrieved March 22, 2014.  Recipe from Lagasse, Emeril; Tirsch, Jessie (1993). New New Orleans Cooking. New York: William Morrow and Company. ISBN 0688112846.  ISBN 9780688112844
  12. ^ The British Food Trust. "Brown Windsor Soup (recipe)". Retrieved March 22, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Brown Windsor Soup Jubilee Collection". The Poke Retrieved March 23, 2014. 

External links[edit]