One of the hazards of writing historicals (at least for me) is my love of research books. I found The Original White House Cookbook 1887 Editiwhitehouse-cookbookon 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 typethat 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. Thethe-leek-welsh-guards-cap-badge 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 cook book.



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.


I hope you enjoy the soup!

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17 thoughts on “PRAIRIE WINTER VEGETABLE SOUP circa 1887”

  1. Hi Jenny!
    I went through the recipe, too, wondering how they would cook this. In a big iron pot, suspended over the fire or set just in front of it on the hearth. WIthout the “vermicelli” of course – they’d have used potates. 😀

  2. Tracy, I can close my eyes and smell the fragrance of those vegetables cooking. Bet it makes the whole house smell wonderful. It’s definitely something to bring warmth inside a home during winter.

    One of my fondest memories is coming home from school to the lucious smell of red beans cooking on the stove. My mother made the best red beans. Add a big slice of cornbread and you have a meal.

  3. Hi Tracy, this sounds perfect for a cold winter day. (I can’t wait for it to cool down around here LOL.) I love veggeies and as Linda says, to get a whiff of this summering on the stove. Thanks you!

  4. It’s a wonderful book, Elizabeth. I’m fascinated by the instructions included, like how to get candle wax off a lady’s silk ball gown, or what to use if a guest is poisoned. Great stuff for books. 😀

  5. Soup sounds wonderful and will soon be an almost nightly meal. I love it when I stumble onto old books that tell us what to do if…… They can be so funny and I often wonder if they really worked.

  6. Can’t wait to get home and try this recipe. We all love soups and now that Fall is setting in, they will be really good.

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