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Brown Windsor soup

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Title: Brown Windsor soup  
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Subject: Charles Elmé Francatelli, Soups, Pottage, Lancashire hotpot, Comfort food
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Brown Windsor soup

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 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 1
  • In popular culture 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Origins and history

It is unclear whether this often-written-about soup is of Victorian origin. 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,[4][5] although Davidson does not make clear if Garrett's recipe is for a "Brown" Windsor Soup. The earliest known cases of "Brown Windsor soup" are found in restaurant menus published as advertisements in newspapers during the 1920s and 1930s. Examples include Cadena Cafes (Portsmouth) which advertised "Soup - Tomato or Brown Windsor" on its menu dated 24 February 1926.[6] Bobby's of Queens Road (Bristol) advertised "Potage Brown Windsor" (under the "soup" heading) on its menu dated 13 February 1931.[7] The Scottish department store Isaac Benzie advertised "Brown Windsor Soup" in a menu published 14 December 1933.[8]

Some more recent web sources incorrectly 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.[9][10] Another associates it with Calves' Feet Soup à la Windsor, created for the "post-natal Queen Victoria" by Charles Elmé Francatelli, her chef.[11][upper-alpha 1] Etymologist Michael Quinion claims the earliest reference 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."[12]

Despite its disputed origins, there are many recipes, and they often reassert or embellish the supposed myth.[3][13][14]

In popular culture

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."[15] In the film Carry On Abroad (1972), Brown Windsor soup is mentioned in the restaurant by Kenneth Williams. In an episode of The Goon Show, Brown Windsor Soup is used as a weapon and mocked as "deficient in calories" by the impressively stout Neddy Seagoon. In Hancock's Half Hour, episode "Air Crew Only", the in-flight meal starts with "Brown Windsor soup just burnt enough to leave that attractive brown ring sticking round the edge of the plate" [16] In Agatha Christie's Poirot, episode "Hercule Poirot's Christmas", Poirot laments to a waiter that the Brown Windsor Soup he has been served "doesn't look very... delicieux".[17] In "Basil The Rat," the last episode of Fawlty Towers, the upper class couple who have the rat under their table order a Windsor Soup as their starter.

See also



  1. ^ 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.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g  
  3. ^ a b French Tart (September 21, 2009). "Queen Victoria's Brown Windsor Soup (recipe)". Retrieved March 22, 2014. 
  4. ^ Garrett, Theodore Francis (ed.) (nd c1890). Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery. London: L. Upcott Gill. 
  5. ^  
  6. ^ The Portsmouth Evening News, 24 February 1926. Page 3, advertisement for Cadena Cafes left column. Last accessed May 2015 via British Newspaper Archive.
  7. ^ Western Daily Press, Bristol, 13 February 1931. Page 9, advertisement for Bobby's of Queens Road left column. Last accessed February 2015 via British Newspaper Archive.
  8. ^ Aberdeen Press and Journal, 14 December 1933, page 12, advertisement second column top. Last accessed February 2015 via British Newspaper Archive.
  9. ^ Lovefood Team (27 February 2013). "The curious tale of Brown Windsor soup". Love Food. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  10. ^  
  11. ^ The Old Foodie. "Windsor Soup". Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  12. ^  
  13. ^ "Brown Windsor Soup (recipe)". Retrieved March 23, 2014.  with Madeira wine
  14. ^   ISBN 9780688112844
  15. ^ "Brown Windsor Soup Jubilee Collection".  
  16. ^ Air Crew Only
  17. ^ Agatha Christie's Poirot (1989)

External links

  • "Brown Windsor Soup (recipe)". Retrieved March 23, 2014.  with Madeira wine
  • French Tart (September 21, 2009). "Queen Victoria's Brown Windsor Soup (recipe)". Retrieved March 22, 2014. 
  • ISBN 9780688112844  
  • Foods of England Project. "Brown Windsor Soup (recipe)". Retrieved August 29, 2015. 
  • Estelle (July 16, 2015). "Vintage Recipes – Brown Windsor Soup". The Skittish Library. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
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