Food: Bacon and Fish Soup

This recipe was taken from “Prehistoric Cooking” by Jacqui Wood which is a great jumping off point for Iron Age recipes and available foods, especially in the UK.  She did years of experimental archaeology on food which is a combination of the use of paleoethnobotany to determine foods available and diets of ancient people as well as the act of using that information to experiment with making edible items.

Things you might learn while doing experimental archaeology, which is learning through living IMO, is that many of the Iron Age bread recipes are best cooked (and more quickly cooked) as bannocks rather than straight up rolls or bread loafs.  That sleeping and bathing in a torc is feasible.  Or that horse hair sleeping rolls are pure gold whether it’s winter or summer.  These are some things you can only learn by doing and experiencing.

While my focus is more on the continent, many of these foods were available in both places, barring some plants which are not a fact in this specific dish.  I would place this recipe in: entirely reasonable for Gaulish consumption.


Recipe as shown: Bacon, leeks, smoked fish, milk, cream, chives, and salt.  Fry the bacon, add leeks to the grease.  Cook until tender.  Add fish and cover with milk, slow cook for about 30 minutes.  Add cream, chives and salt at the end.

Since I am a consistent and steady lady…I eyeballed everything.  I would have likely used every cooking pan in my kitchen for the sole reason to drive myself insane with cleaning dishes.   All cooking adventures usually ends in our kitchen looking like a greasy tornado touched down, said NOPE and went on it’s way.

However, I convinced myself that as an Iron Age lady, I can’t be bothered with multiple cooking implements.  It was all going to be done in one pot: it was glorious.

This recipe was not entirely the result of careful planning as it was the result of actually having most of the ingredients on hand.  The only item I had to seek out was the smoked fish, in which case I looked for smoked herring without complicated additives: so just fish and salt.


All ingredients above, just ignore the butter.  Butter just appeared out of no where and photo bombed everything.  Bad butter!

After the ingredients have been assembled and the butter dismissed it was time to cook.


Bacon cooked in pot.


After bacon cooked and grease from bacon was released, I added the chopped leaks.


Bacon and leeks cooked down.


Add the smoked fish and milk to the batch.  Simmer for about 30 minutes.


After about 30 minutes I added a little cream, stirred it all up, and served it.


Finished meal.

This came out very well and got the picky-husband seal of approval.  My husband is one of those guys that is always happy to try new things, but has been generally disapproving of historical recipes.  This one was a hit.  It was great with a little bit of bread for dipping.  I eat mine with a glass of beer which really added to the experience.

This is a heavy and high calorie meal.  This took about 10 minutes of actual work from me and 30 minutes of waiting for things to cook.  I would absolutely consider this for camping events as both a period and easy to make meal.

An adjustment I might make is the drain the bacon grease from the bacon and leeks before adding the fish and milk.  The grease would slowly separate and lay on the top of the dish, which might not be visually appealing for others.  In the interest of time and simplicity on a site I would leave it and just stir it well before serving.