Black soup

The ancient Spartan melas zomos (μέλας ζωμός mélās zōmós), or black soup / black broth, was a staple soup made of boiled pigs' legs, blood, salt and vinegar.[1] It is thought that the vinegar was used as an emulsifier to keep the blood from clotting during the cooking process. The armies of Sparta mainly ate this as part of their subsistence diet.[2]

Black broth soup
Place of originGreece
Main ingredientsPigs' legs, blood, salt and vinegar

According to legend, a man from Sybaris, a city in southern Italy infamous for its luxury and gluttony (which gave rise to the word sybarite), after tasting the Spartans' black soup remarked with disgust, "Now I do perceive why it is that Spartan soldiers encounter death so joyfully; dead men require no longer to eat; black broth is no longer a necessity."[2] In another story, it is said that Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse, bought a slave who had been a Spartan cook and ordered him to prepare the broth for him, sparing no expense. When the king tasted it, he spat it out in disgust, whereupon the cook said, "Your Majesty, it is necessary to have exercised in the Spartan manner, and to have bathed in the Eurotas, in order to relish this broth."

No recipe for the Spartan black soup has survived, but blood soups are still eaten in various countries today, such as Greece (particularly in Laconia and Mani),[citation needed] Italy, France and Serbia.

See alsoEdit

  • Black pudding, a wide variety of sausages containing blood
  • Maasai tribesmen also consume cow's blood, sometimes mixed with milk
  • Svartsoppa, Swedish (Scanian) soup made with goose blood
  • Czernina, Polish soup made with duck blood
  • Dinuguan, Filipino stew made of pig's blood, pork, chili, and vinegar
  • Schwarzsauer, a North German blood soup with spices cooked in vinegar and black pudding.
  • List of soups


  1. ^ Flacelière R. La Vie quotidienne en Grèce au temps de Périclès. Paris: Hachette, 1988 (1st edn. 1959) ISBN 2-01-005966-2, translated in English as Daily Life in Greece at the Time of Pericles. London: Phoenix Press, 2002 ISBN 1-84212-507-9, p. 171
  2. ^ a b Clarkson, Janet (2010). Soup : a global history. London: Reaktion. pp. 118–119. ISBN 978-1-86189-774-9. OCLC 642290114.

Further readingEdit

  • Clauss, Manfred (1983). Sparta. Eine Einführung in seine Geschichte und Zivilisation (Sparta. An Introduction to its History and Civilisation) (in German). C.H. Beck, München (Beck'sche Elementarbücher). p. 166. ISBN 3-406-09476-7.