Pepper Pot Soup
We all sat around the table, tired and defeated. It looked like another full weekend of snow. This always seems to happen on the weekends for the past couple of months, beautiful days all throughout the week, and a heavy rain or snow on Saturday when we have the time to all work together as a family. We bought this farm, but we all still have regular work and jobs. My job will now turn into farm work, but my dad will still go his regular 9 to 5, and Jill will still be making our handmade goods. The weekend is our time to get projects done that I cannot do on my own, out here on the land. But... another weekend of snow was upon us last Saturday. And I made sure to turn on the propane stove and get to cooking because it was what we all needed.
Did you know that legend says pepper pot soup founded the United States? It's true! Well, the part about it being a legend anyway. The fact is that most historians don't believe this happened at all. According to legend, while George Washington spent his 10n days at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania with his starving soldiers, women, and children there was a general named Christopher Ludwick who created a soup out of vegetable scraps, tripe, and whichever herbs and spices he had on hand. He hoped to warm and strengthen the men around him who were freezing in the snow, leaving bloody footprints around the camp. This soup, which became known as pepper pot soup, gave the soldiers the revival they needed to eventually win the war. The dish is actually Caribbean inspired, as it used many warming spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. It has a sweet and spicy flavor, which is a bit different when paired with the standard soup materials of English cookery. The big difference is the tripe, which is the intestinal and stomach lining of an animal, usually a cow. It apparently smells like feces when cooked, so I decidedly left this part out. Every pepper pot soup recipe you'll come across is different and unique. It's almost like a mark upon the heart of your family. I make my pepper pot soup with rice and kidney/black beans for some depth and heartiness.
Ingredients + Recipe |
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, halved and diced
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 ripe tomatoes, cored and diced (or one 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
- 1/2 cup mushrooms (your favorites), sliced
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 - 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1 15 oz can kidney beans
- 1 cup brown or jasmine rice
- In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and butter until melted.
- Add the diced onion and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Cook until soft and the onions are translucent.
- Add the tomatoes. Toss with about a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the other herbs and spices. Stir until everything is well coated.
- Turn the heat on high and add the white wine. Cook until slightly reduced and boiling, a few minutes.
- Add the kidney beans. Cover with stock. Bring to a boil and let simmer about 20 minutes, or until flavored to your liking.
- While the soup is simmering, start a pot of rice.
- Once the rice is cooked and the soup has simmered and been adjusted to your taste (for example, you might not like so much cinnamon - I like a lot!) fill your soup bowls with a bit of rice and cover with pepperpot soup.
- Serve hot with homemade bread.
We all sat around the table, ate and signed with relief. There's nothing quite like good comfort food, is there? Perhaps the pepper pot soup helped to revive our spirits about this seemingly endless winter. I know that its not generally unusual for the month of March to have snow, but I just keep feeling like spring is taking much longer this year than normal. I can only hope that we will see green grass again soon! I hope this soup can you give you comfort as well if you are living somewhere cold and snowy.