Plowman's Pottage


In days of yore Plough Monday heralded the end of the Christmas holidays, when farm labourers returned to the plough. The ploughmen went from door to door soliciting 'plough money' to spend in celebration. This is strange on two levels. 1. Why weren’t they working? 2. Why were they celebrating? But then again we shouldn’t begrudge them their fun as the ploughmen were considered hardworking but downtrodden peasants. Many villages had only one team of oxen and the ploughman worked the team on all the land. He was an essential part of the village. Anyway, the practice of blessing the plough by taking it inside the Church and leading it around a specially consecrated 'plough light' also took place on this day.

Ploughman’s Pottage was a soup like dish that could be left to simmer on the range until the weary ploughman made it home. Although it doesn’t sound very appetising, my Official Taster and I actually quite enjoyed it.


150g pearl barley ¼ Savoy cabbage, shredded
1 litre good vegetable or other stock Salt and ground black pepper
2 medium leeks, finely shredded Handful fresh chopped parsley


  1. Put the barley in a large pan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  2. Drain and return to the pan.
  3. Add the stock and bring back to a simmer.
  4. After about 20 minutes test the barley - if it's done to your liking, add the leeks and let them simmer for four to five minutes until just tender.
  5. Add the cabbage and cook for two to three minutes, until tender. Season to taste, add the parsley and chives and serve at once.


Savoy Cabbage