Three economical soup recipes from WW2

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World War 2: Economical soup recipes

SoupSoup is surely one of the foods of the gods?  A good, homemade soup is nutritious, inexpensive, easy to make and so very tasty.

During the Second World War, soup was an essential part of the diet in Britain. It was warming and nourishing and the clever cook could create delicious soup-based meals despite rationing and food shortages.

Today, we have a lot to learn from the frugal habits of wartime.

We are all trying to save the planet’s resources. We are looking for ways to feed ourselves and our families well without spending a fortune. We value real food these days.

We are,in many ways, returning to basics and discovering the truly important things in life. The fast food era has had its day. The days of zapping a ready-prepared supermarket meal in the microwave are rapidly fading away.

We no longer want to feed our families foods that are from unknown sources – and that may contain unknown additives. Our priorities have changed a lot. Yes, we want meals that are easy to prepare but not at the cost of nutrition and taste.

Here is selection of soups taken from a cookery book that was popular in the UK during the Second World War. They are exactly as described in the book but with my notes added in italics.



1 pound potatoes
1 pint vegetable stock (I make my own from offcuts)
1 teaspoon margarine (I use butter)
1 pint milk
Salt and pepper (Preferably freshly ground black pepper)
2 bunches watercress


Wash and peel the potatoes and chop into small pieces. Cook the potatoes in the stock until they are soft, then mash them on the side of the pan using a wooden spoon. (Zapping in the blender is quicker). Add the margarine, milk and seasoning. Reheat and add the chopped watercress just before serving.



2 tablespoons chopped onion or leek
1½ oz margarine (butter)
2 cups milk
2 cups water
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup grated cheese (I use more)
Salt & pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley


Add the onion and the margarine to the milk and water in a pan and bring to a boil. Cook for fifteen minutes, stirring frequently. Blend the flour with a little milk, stir in and cook for  a few minutes to thicken. Add cheese and seasoning. Stir until the cheese is melted but do not boil. Add parsley and serve very hot.



1 oz margarine (butter)
2 oz flour
¼ pint milk
Salt & pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 egg
2 pints fish stock. (Put fish heads,trimmings & bones in a pan with water to cover. Add small peeled onion, a little chopped celery, mixed herbs & seasoning. Cook for 30 minutes, no longer.Strain).


Melt the margarine in a pan,stir in the flour and cook for several minutes, stirring well. Remove from the heat and gradually add the fish stock. Boil until the soup thickens then add the milk, seasoning and parsley. Whisk in the egg.Stir over a gentle heat,but do not boil, for a further five minutes. Serve garnished with watercress.


Serve the soups with fresh crusty bread and a delicious fresh salad. In wartime, soups were made to go even further by adding croutons (made from leftover bread dried in the oven) or dumplings.



Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. British born and now living in the USA, she specialises in lifestyle issues, design and quirky stories. You can see a wide range of articles here, or visit her website Tastes Magazine. See The Writer’s Door for more information.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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