In case you were looking for another holiday this week (or just a nice warm soup to fortify you in preparation for New Year’s Eve), today is Pepper Pot Day. Somehow this fact was sent to my email ingeniously embedded within advertising. So I deleted the message and googled the day. According to American lore, pepper pot is a thick spicy soup first created on December 29, 1777, during the Revolutionary War. The army was running low on food and morale, so Christopher Ludwick, their cook, gathered whatever food he could scrounge up in the countryside, and made pepper pot soup. It rejuvenated the troops and was dubbed “the soup that won the war.”
Apparently the original soup was made from scraps of tripe (don’t even ask), bacon rind, root veggies, and some peppercorn. I’m sure there are people who adore the original recipe, but it sounds to me like he made it in desperation from whatever he could beg, borrow, or steal from the locals.
My pepper pot soup is exactly nothing like Ludwick’s soup, but then again you don’t have to be starving in a field to love it, so you choose.
Jo’s (Made Up on the Spot) Pepper Pot Soup
Ingredients (all amounts approximate- this is soup, so just go with it):
– 1 cup of dried pantry items (lentils, beans, barley, rice, etc- whatever you have)
– 1-2 cups of root veggies (carrots, onions, celery, leftover Brussels sprouts, etc)
– 2 cloves of garlic.
– 3-4 cups of bell peppers (I used traffic light colours)
– Any kind of hot or spicy peppers you have- to your own taste (I used jalapenos, pickled banana peppers, dried paprika, crushed black peppercorns, and dried red pepper flakes- it is called pepper pot soup after all).
– 4-5 cups of vegetable broth.
– Any other “scrounged” items you desire- I threw in a few tomatoes that needed using up, and some dried shiitakes. Soup is always good for using up leftovers.
– Meat substitute if desired. Since I was grabbing my dried items anyway, I threw in a cup or so of dried soy chik’n pieces.
– 1/2 tsp. thyme.
– 1/2 tsp. marjoram.
– 1 tsp. cumin (secret ingredient).
– salt to taste.
– Clean and soak the 1 cup of dried pantry items. (I chose all items that do not take a long soak time, and I just threw them in the crockpot and poured boiling kettle water over them. Then I set the crockpot on low and did some errands for an hour or two).
– Drain the soaked items and put them back in the pot. Add vegetable broth.
– Meanwhile, cut up the root veggies, garlic, and fresh peppers. Soften them in a frying pan with a little vegetable oil, and add to the crockpot.
– Rehydrate the shiitakes and chik’n (I use boiling water, drain, then soak for a few minutes in Bragg’s aminos) and add to the pot.
– Finally, add the spices, salt and dried peppers to taste.
– Cook on high for 1/2 hour, then turn down low and leave in the pot until you are ready to eat (the longer it cooks, the more flavourful it becomes.Taste and check the seasonings at least 1/2 hr. before eating).