French onion soup is no question a delicious dish with its savory and rich flavor. Top it with melted cheese and croutons, and it’s chef’s kiss. The Vikings knew that too well, except you need to remove the cheese and croutons, then make the onions super pungent. They also didn’t enjoy it as an entree, but rather, they served it to warriors injured in battle as a crude diagnostic tool to determine whether a wound might be fatal. Let’s find out why the Vikings fed their wounded onion soup.

Vikings

Vikings were seafarers who originated in Scandinavia. Beginning the 8th century, they raided and pirated areas of Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, and North America. This, of course, involved tons of combatting encounters. Whenever they had to fight, they would form a wedge with their fearsome berserkers at the front of their formation. They would rush forward with ax, spear, and sword and although it was not well-known, they also employed longbows that they would use to hit targets at sea or to deplete enemy ranks. Even though they were considered good fighters, bringing home hacked-up and wounded warriors after a battle was inevitable.

An illustration of Vikings on a boat. (John Clarke Ridpath, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Vikings Were Farmers, Too

Everyday life in the Viking Age
Everyday life in the Viking Age, as pictured on a Faroese stamp (norse-mythology.org)

Even though they had a reputation as pirates and raiders, they didn’t only terrorize ships and invade lands. Vikings were also good farmers and cooks. They had a diverse cuisine of sausages, boiled and fresh meat, meat preserved through smoking, curing, or using whey. As voyagers, they also loved seafood, dairy products, and their harvests of fruits and vegetables that they could turn to beers, meads, and in terms of medicine, herbs that they would use to cure diseases and heal their wounds.

Onion Soup For The Wounded

For the Viking wounded in the abdomen, the women would feed him onion soup. And no, it was not to make them feel better.