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Catholic Recipe: Olio


  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup borage
  • 1/2 cup endive
  • 1/4 cup marigold
  • 1/2 cup sorrel
  • 2 cups whole spinach
  • 1 turnip, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cups cabbage, diced
  • Pinch of cloves
  • Pinch of mace
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 egg yolk


Prep Time: 1 hour

Difficulty:  ★★☆☆

Cost:  ★★☆☆

For Ages: 11+



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Also Called: Vegetable Soup

There is a thicker sort of soup called an Olio in the old cookbooks. It resembles a vegetable stew. Some olios of the Middle Ages contained as many as 50 kinds of vegetables, herbs and spices together with beef, ham, pork, veal and mutton. This recipe was made for the Duke of Bolton on his days of abstinence by his cook, John Nott.

John Nott added some "bottoms of artichoke, chestnuts (boiled and blanched), and a couple of colley flowers." I must admit I have never gone quite that far—and the stew is good without these last items.

At this point, I can see several good Christian cooks washing their hands of this book entirely and refusing to go any further with such mixtures. During the Middle Ages almost every dish which came to the table was a riddle. My family eyed the stuff and sniffed suspiciously when it was served for the first time. We Americans are very afraid of a food novelty, even though it's as old as the hills. Our diet has become so standardized that you can travel from coast to coast and through every town, and in every restaurant, you will find the same hamburger or hot-dog. I have often thought what a few good herbs could do for that hamburger. But only God knows what to do for that hot-dog.

In serving something new or strange, remember your child psychology. Present the new food with a smile and a story. If they taste it and send the rest back to the kitchen, don't say a word. Just serve it again with a smile and a story. After the fourth time, if the thing is at all palatable, your gewohnheit kind will be asking for more. It became a joke at our house when some member of the family complained of the food, five-year-old Freddie remarked, "Aw — eat it for penance."


Cook vegetable broth with herbs. Add diced vegetables and spices. When the soup is well cooked, add the egg yolk.

Recipe Source: Cooking for Christ by Florence Berger, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, 4625 Beaver Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50310, 1949, 1999