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Recipe for
Tisanam vel sucum
(Barley Soup)

Tisanam vel sucum

Tisanam vel sucum (Ptisana) was one soup that was very high-calorie, but healthful, especially compared to other typical Roman cuisine. Based with barley; this was left to soak in cold water for 24 hours, Then chickpeas, lentils, peas were added.

Soups and such constituted the normal meal of the lower classes, as the price of the ingredients was much lower and affordable, compared to other genres, such as meat and fish, which were usually only found on the tables of the rich.

Original recipe: Tisanam sic facies: tisanam lavando fricas, quam ante diem infundes. impones supra ignem calidum. cum bullierit, mittes olei satis et anethi modicum fasciculum, cepam siccam, satureiam et coloefium, ut ibi coquantur propter sucum. mittes coriandrum viridem et salem simul tritum et facies ut ferveat. cum bene ferbuerit, tolles fasciculum et transferes in alterum caccabum tisanam sic, ne fundum tangat propter combusturam. lias et colas in caccabulo supra acronem coloefium. teres piper, ligusticum, pulei aridi modicum, cuminum et silfi frictum, [ut bene tegatur], suffundis acetum, defritum, liquamen, refundis in caccabum super coloefium acronem, (ut bene tegatur). facies ut ferveat super ignem lentum.

Tanslation: Barley soup: You make barley soup like this: soak barley overnight and wash and rub (it free of husk). Put it over hot coals (in a pan). When it is boiling, add sufficient oil and a small bundle of dill, dried onion, savory and a knuckle ham bone so they may cook there to produce a liquor. Put in green coriander and salt, which have been pounded together. Bring it to heat; when it is simmering well, take out the bundle and transfer the barley soup to another pan, making sure that the bottom of the pan does not touch (the coals) and so burn: you smooth it and strain it into the pan, over the top of the ham bone. Pound pepper, lovage, a little dried pennyroyal, cumin and pounded silphium; so that it is well covered, pour on vinegar, defrutum, liquamen; pour back into the pan; but bring the ham bone to heat over a slow fire.


  • 150g/5 oz pearl barley
  • 1 leek
  • tsp dried dill tops
  • 60 ml/2fl oz olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Sea salt


  • Soak the barley overnight.
  • Slice the leek. Place all the ingredients in a pan along with 2 pints of water.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for an hour.
  • Stir every five minutes and top up the water if necessary This soup is meant to be thick, so add the water sparingly.
  • Before serving, season with salt.
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