Gelyne in Brothe

Hen in Broth

The following recipe is a fairly simple to cook and is quite nice served by itself as a simple dish or served with rice.

Source: Harleian MS. 4016, ab. 1450 A.D (from Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books)

Gelyne in Brothe

Original Recipe:

Gelyn in brothe. Take rawe hennes, chop hem, caste hem into a potte; cast to fressh broth Wyne, parcelly, oynons myced, powder of peper, clowes, Maces, saffroun, and salt; then stepe brede with vinegre and the same broth, and draw hit throgh a streynour, and cast it thereto, and lete boyle ynogh; And caste thereto pouder ginger, and sesone hit vp, & serue forth.

My Translation:

Hen in broth. Take raw hens, chop them, cast them into a pot; cast to fresh broth Wine, parsley, onions minced, powder of pepper, cloves, Maces, saffron, and salt; then steep bread with vinegar and the same broth, and draw it through a strainer, and cast it thereto, and let boil enough; And cast thereto powdered ginger, and season it up, & serve forth.

My Interpretation:

1 chicken, cut-up
¼ cup vinegar
 2-2½ cups of water  1 small onion, minced
 1cup white wine  ½ tsp finely ground pepper
 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley  6 whole cloves
 ½ tsp ground mace  3-4 tbsp unseasoned bread crumbs
 10-20 threads of Saffron  1 tsp powdered ginger
 1 tsp salt  

Place all ingredients into a pot, except for breadcrumbs. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until the chicken is cooked, approximately 30-40 minutes. After the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pot and remove the skin and bones, and chop the chicken further into bite size pieces. Return the chopped chicken back to the broth. Stir in the breadcrumbs, and stir regularly until broth is thickened to desired consistency, then serve.


One of the changes I do from the original recipe and this one is using breadcrumbs instead of sleeping the bread with vinegar and broth, then mashing it through a strainer. My reasons for this change are as follows: Using breadcrumbs does not in anyway change the nature of this dish. The same property of the bread (the cooked starch) is being used for thickening the broth. This is also a more frugal method. In my opinion, you are not using more dishes (a strainer and a bowl to sleep the bread in) to get the same desired result. It is also a simpler means to achiever the desired result, especially since thus dish was cooked on site. I found the above proportions of ingredients to give this soup a nice balance of flavors. In addition I add the breadcrumbs as a final step rather than in the beginning so that the pot does not have to be stirred while the chicken is cooking and minimizing any scorching that might occur.

Another change that I did from the original is to take the chicken back out and remove the skin and bones, chopping up the meat and returning just the meat to the pot. This is more a courtesy to our modem sensibility that you would not find skin and bones in a soup.

Works Referenced:

Austin, Thomas, comp. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books. N.p.: Early English Text Society, 1888. Google Books. Web. 21 June 2012. <>

Friedman, David D., ed. A Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Cookbooks. S.l.: S.n., 1991. Print.compiled by Duke Cariadoc of the Bow and Duchessa Diana Alena

Renfrow, Cindy. Take a Thousand Eggs or More: A Translation of Medieval Recipes from Harleian MS. 279, Harleian MS. 4016, and Extracts of Ashmole MS. 1439, Laud MS. 553, and Douce MS. 55, with More than 100 Recipes Adapted for Modern Cookery. Unionville, NY: Royal Fireworks, 1997. Print.