Search This Blog

Monday, November 14, 2016

Soup--My Favorite Winter Food

Now that the weather is finally turning cooler, I've started hunting up recipes to fill my big soup pot. I love soup! One of the hazards of writing historicals (at least for me) is my love of research books. Add to that my penchant for collecting cookbooks and recipes and... Well. You know.

I found The Original White House Cookbook 1887 Edition a few years ago on a list of clearance books. In it you can learn how to fix a tear in a lady’s silk gown, dye cloth, make Rose Water or Bay Rum, even fade freckles. 

The recipes are the type that would have been made in homes everywhere, including by settlers out west.

This Winter Vegetable Soup is made with ingredients that would be found in the root cellar of most frontier homes. Turnips, carrots, onions and celery were common vegetables grown in kitchen gardens throughout the west. The leeks? They may not be as common, but I’ve found evidence they can be grown in Texas - plant them in late summer and they can be harvested fresh in the winter/early spring.

As an aside, the leek is a symbol of Wales. It’s even worn as a cap badge by the Welsh Guards. The vegetable would certainly have been brought over in the 1830s by Welsh immigrants to Texas.

The directions are exactly as they appear in the cookbook.

Scrape and slice three turnips and three carrots, and peel three onions, and fry all with a little butter until a light yellow; add a bunch of celery and three or four leeks cut in pieces; stir and fry all the ingredients for six minutes; when fried, add one clove of garlic, two stalks of parsley, two cloves, salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg; cover with three quarts of water and simmer for three hours, taking off the scum carefully.  Strain and use. Croutons, vermicelli, Italian pastes, or rice may be added.

What's your favorite cold weather food?


  1. This sounds delicious, Tracy! Definitely the time of year for soup and hot, crusty bread slathered in butter.

  2. Tracy,

    I have a few old recipe books that were handed down to me from my two grandmothers. I also have handwritten recipes from my maternal grandmother.

    I love the original wording in these old recipes. I have a recipe that calls for a nickel sized Hershey candy bar. while I remember what size candy bar that was, that sort of ingredient does not translate well into modern recipes.

    I also think it's interesting that vegetable soup is one of those dishes that cooks can put in everything but the "kitchen sink". Whatever was on hand was what went into soups, which made them such a standard at mealtime.

    1. That's true, Kaye. You can add & remove ingredients according to what you have in the house.

  3. Tracy, you and my mother would have been good friends. She loved and made soup all the time. Me, not so much, but I'm getting better at liking it. I confess, chili is my go to in winter, but I've been known to cook up some cauliflower in chicken broth. I throw that in a blender and freeze in serving containers. When I get home from work, in the pot it goes with maybe some cheese and chicken.

    Like you, love old books,research and cookbooks. But hey, I get to read!!! Yeah. Doris

    1. I love chili, too. And I'm so swiping your frozen cauliflower & chicken broth idea. Thanks, Doris!

  4. My fave cold weather food is also SOUP. STEWs make up a close second on the list. My maternal grandmother, who came from France, said they lived on soups and stews when she was growing up and I'm so glad she passed on her recipes for those. Not highly seasoned, but just the right seasoning for whatever soup or stew is on the menu. Interesting post!

  5. Interesting recipe. Interesting about leeks. I had one year I planted a winter garden and the only thing that survived was the leeks. I needed to get creative about how to use them all up.

  6. YES! We authors are research addicts, so no wonder you went off the rails with cook books and looking for historical recipes, Tracy. Soup was a favorite dish when I was growing up. Mom liked to make fresh yeast bread to go with her vegetable beef soup. The vegetables included in the soup change from one location of the country to another. My mother-in-law made hers southern style by including okra in her recipe. My husband's family preferred corn bread with their soup.
    My favorite winter food is homemade chili and cornbread, but I sure wouldn't turn down vegetable soup. Even the aroma of soup cooking makes me wax nostalgic--homesick, actually.
    Lovely blog. Have a wonderful--and flavorful Thanksgiving, Tracy.

  7. Soup, of course! I always wait for our first real cold front so I can make my vegetable soup: peeled and chopped potatoes, onions, carrots, celery--cook in chicken broth--not so much you lose the vegetables--add a can of tiny diced tomatoes with basil--or with Italian seasoning..keep the soup thick...not watery. Add a little olive oil.
    I can't say I have a long list of soups, but those I have we do love. And we must have cornbread of some kind.
    I don't make stews--I don't cook or use meat.
    Now, I can't wait.
    I envy you finding that vintage cookbook!