What Is Black Soup?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

Also known as black broth, black soup is an ancient staple soup made in Greece. A traditional meal from Sparta, it consisted of vinegar, pork, and the boiled legs of pigs. Salt and pork blood were also often added. The blood dish was considered a hearty meal for the fierce soldiers of the region, and though no single recipe today is thought to contain what the original black soup was made from, it is still served in various regions, with varying recipes.

Black beans are included in the Chinese version of black soup.
Black beans are included in the Chinese version of black soup.

Black soup in its original incarnation is not considered a treat. The meal was, on the contrary, akin to various hangover remedies and unpalatable concoctions used to awaken the body, even if unpleasantly so. This was said to enable the warriors of Sparta to remain vigilant no matter the weather or other harsh conditions. One legend tells of people tasting the soup, then commenting that it was no wonder Spartans were so eager to die.

Black soup contains vinegar.
Black soup contains vinegar.

Several other versions of black soup are also served in different regions of the world. A Chinese version of black soup, which includes black chicken, black beans, and other dark ingredients, is sometimes served as a high-protein meal to help cleanse the kidneys and rebuild muscle. In Prague, the savory soup consists of various root vegetables and meats. The Swedish version of the soup, known as svartsoppa, is built upon a main ingredient of goose or pig blood, and is traditionally served on Saint Martin's Eve.

Pig's blood may be featured in the Swedish version of black soup.
Pig's blood may be featured in the Swedish version of black soup.

The soup's cousin in Africa, made by Masai peoples, is made with goat and herbs. Cow's blood, sometimes mixed with milk, is also often incorporated into a black soup in the region. In the Philippines, a pork blood based soup known as dinuguan translates in English to blood pudding stew, or pork blood stew. Like many other blood dishes, it is a savory dark soup and contains chili and vinegar. Traditionally this soup is served with white rice or rice cakes.

In Poland, the blood-based soup is mixed with clear chicken broth and called czernina. There, duck blood is the traditional base for the soup, though it can also be made with the blood of rabbits, chickens, or pigs. This soup is also different from other blood dishes due to its sweet and sour nature, which is largely due to the fruit usually used in it. Honey and apple vinegar are also often used to flavor this type of soup.

Black soup also works as a hangover remedy.
Black soup also works as a hangover remedy.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments

backdraft

Wow, this make me glad to not be a Greek soldier. Black soup sounds like it is both disgusting and not very satisfying.

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