United Soups of America

Soups Tell Stories

Take this week’s historic soups: Philadelphia Pepper Pot-sometimes called the “Soup that Won The War”-and Senate Bean Soup, a homey ham-studded white bean soup that has been served every day at the Senate Dining Room in D.C. since 1903.

Legend has it that American troops, in the winter of 1777/78, were on the brink of disbanding or perishing, from disease and inanition and frigid cold, when George Washington’s baker general Christopher Ludwickcreated a soup from tripe, vegetable scraps and spices to, in the words of Washington, “warm and strengthen the body of a soldier and inspire his flagging spirit.”  The soup-allegedly Philadelphia Pepper Pot-revived the beleaguered soldiers and carried them through the perilous winter so they could eventually win the war.

Or so goes the legend-cum-myth.  Ludwick certainly didn’t invent the dish, as Pepper Pot came to Philly via the West Indies.  But he did very likely tweak a recipe he knew by adding tripe, utilizing ingredients he had and making it even more nutritious.  Our Philly Pepper Pot is a delicious, rich bone broth spiced with cloves and marjoram, packed with veggies, potatoes, beef bits and, yes, tripe. If ever a soup could “inspire a flagging spirit,” Pepper Pot is it.

And don’t panic about the tripe y’all.  We all need to eat more of it-it is full of B vitamins and micronutrients that our industrialized modern diets are often lacking in.  It’s also more sustainable.  And great for hangovers.

Our second World Soup, Senate Bean Soup, features the lovely American legume the Navy Bean, which-put it on your calendar for next year people-is celebrated every year in Indiana at the famous  Navy Bean Fall Festival.