Janny de Moor Janny de Moor

Fun fair soup (Kermissoep)


Serves 4



  • 2,5 litre water
  • 1 kg boned and rolled meat
  • 250 g lean minced beef
  • 1 rusk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground mace
  • 2 washed onions (not peeled!)
  • 1 bouquet garni: parsley, sage, bay leaf
  • 500 g white asparagus, peeled
  • 100 g vermicelli
  • 1 bunch celery leaves
  • salt to taste



  • lamb’s lettuce
  • cocktail onions
  • gherkins
  • lemon segments
  • mustard
  • Dutch brandy
  • buttered wholemeal bread

This well-filled traditional soup was only prepared for special occasions, such as the yearly fun fairs to which the southern provinces looked forward eagerly. Experts on the Brabant cuisine tell us that alongside the rolled meat and meatballs a huge shin of beef used to be added. Fat yellow vermicelli and coarsely cut celery leaves are normal ingredients too. However, there were other possibilities. The Burger Keukenboek (‘A Citizen’s Kitchen Book’, Rotterdam 1833) advises sorrel, spinach, salad, parsley root and even asparagus to enlighten a soup. I have opted for Brabant asparagus.

  • Bring the water with the rolled meat to the boil in a large pan.
  • In the meantime form firm small balls from the minced meat with crushed rusk, salt and mace.
  • As soon as the water boils add the balls, the onions and herbs. Skim off with a slotted spoon. Cover and simmer for two hours over very low heat.
  • Remove the rolled meat from the pan and leave to cool.
  • Strain the stock through a sieve lined with dampened muslin into a clean pan. Rinse the meatballs, return them to the stock.
  • Cut the asparagus into 5 cm pieces. Add to the stock and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the vermicelli and cook for a further 10 minutes. Finally add the coarsely cut celery leaves. Season to taste with with salt.
  • Garnish a shallow plate with washed lamb’s lettuce. Cut the cold rolled meat into neat slices. Arrange them in the middle of the plate, scatter onions and gherkins along the rim, garnish with lemon segments.
  • Serve the soup with buttered slices of bread, the rolled meat, mustard and pickles. Traditionally a drop of lemon was squeezed into the soup and spoonfuls of soup were often followed by a sip of brandy.

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