Old-fashioned Leek and Potato Soup with Imperial Bread Sticks

leek-potato-soup

When it comes to cooking, March is the month I find most challenging. Many days the weather is still brisk and windy (with an occasional snow shower) – and winter foods seem most appropriate,  yet I’m tiring of them and yearn for bright and sunny spring foods.

When I searched for the perfect hundred-year-old recipe for this week, I came across a recipe for Leek and Potato Soup with Imperial Bread Sticks that excited me.

The verdict: The Leek and Potato Soup was easy to make, and delightful;  and, just right on a damp and raw March day. The traditional combination of leeks and potatoes in a rich and creamy soup base warmed me, and delicate yellow and green leek pieces floating in the soup provided just a hint of spring.

The recipe called for serving the soup with Imperial Bread Sticks. The bread sticks were made by cutting bread into sticks and toasting. It was fun to replicate how people made bread sticks a hundred years ago – though it I made this soup again, I’d probably either serve it with a warm artisan bread or buy modern bread sticks.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (December, 1916)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Leek and Potato Soup with Imperial Bread Sticks

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Leek and Potato Soup

6 leeks

6 medium potatoes

water

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup cream

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

Clean the leeks and remove the coarse dark green tops. Cut the white and light-green portions of the leeks into thin slices. Set aside.

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Put the diced potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Put on the stove and using high heat bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and drain.

Add the sliced leeks to the drained potatoes, and just barely cover with boiling water. (I heated the water in the microwave. In days gone by, it would have been heated in a tea kettle or pan on the stove.). Return to the stove, and using high heat bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover; cook until the leeks are tender (about 15 minutes).  (DO NOT drain.) Stir in the salt, pepper, cream, parsley, and butter. Heat until the soup is hot and steamy. Remove from heat, and, if desired, serve with Imperial Bread Sticks.

Imperial Bread Sticks

bread (I used sliced Vienna bread.)

butter

Cut as many slices of bread as desired into sticks 1/2 inch wide. Cut off the crust. Butter both sides of the bread sticks, and then place on a metal baking sheet.  Place under the broiler and broil until lightly browned. Remove from oven and flip, then return to broiler to brown the other side. Remove from heat and serve.

Notes: The process for preparing and cooking the leeks and potatoes in the old recipe was a bit befuddling. The potatoes (which I assume were diced into cubes) were boiled for three minutes, then the water was drained. Next the entire white and light green sections of the leeks were added to the saucepan, and everything was covered with boiling water. This mixture was then cooked until the leeks were tender – at which point, the leeks were removed from the water and thinly sliced; then returned to the water.

When I updated the recipe I simplified the process just a little. Perhaps draining the potatoes after cooking them for several minutes removed excess starch, so I retained that step. And, perhaps pouring boiling water on the leeks and partially cooked potatoes (rather than covering them with cold water which is brought to a boil) affects the texture of the vegetables, so I retained that step.

But, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why the leeks should be cooked before slicing. If seems like it would be much more difficult to slice cooked leeks than raw ones, so I simplified that step and sliced the raw leeks before adding them to the potatoes.

Hundred-Year-Old Bean Chowder Recipe

bean-chowder-e

It’s cold and blustery here – and time to make a  hearty soup. I searched though my hundred-year-old recipes and came up with the perfect soup for a cold winter day – Bean Chowder.

This savory, comforting, filling and nutritious chowder is made with dried navy beans, salt pork, onions and tomatoes; and it hit the spot perfectly. This recipe is a keeper (though if I made it again I might shorten the prep time by using canned navy beans).

Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1916)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Bean Chowder

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 30 minutes active prep time; actual time=15+ hours
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 quart (4 cups) water + approximately 2 quarts water

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups dried navy beans

1/2 pound salt pork, diced into small pieces

2 medium onions, thinly sized

1 quart (28 oz. can) canned tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

In a large saucepan bring 1 quart water and the baking soda to a boil using high heat. Remove from the heat, then stir in the navy beans, and cover. Let sit overnight (10-12 hours).  Then drain the beans. Rinse thoroughly and then put into a large dutch oven or soup pot. Add one quart water, the diced salt pork, and the onions. Bring to a boil on high heat, and then reduce heat and let gently simmer for four hours. Add additional water as needed (approximately one additional quart of water will need to be added).

At the end of the four hours, add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and sugar. Cook for an additional hour, and then serve.

Old-fashioned Cream of Onion Soup Recipe

cream of onion soup

There’s starting to be a nip in the air; a few trees are turning lovely hues of red and yellow, and the days are getting shorter. Autumn is here – and I had a sudden urge to make soup.

I found a lovely  hundred-year-old recipe for Cream of Onion Soup. The soup was rich and creamy with flecks of onions. The recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon of pepper which gave the Cream of Onion Soup a delightful peppery undertone.

Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine), March, 1916
Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine), March, 1916

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cream of Onion Soup

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Time: 40 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
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5 onions, sliced (approximately 3 cups)

1/4 cup butter + 1/4 cup butter

4 cups water

4 sprigs parsley

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

4 cups milk

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup cream

Melt 1/4 cup butter in large saucepan, add sliced onions and saute until the onions are soft and semi-transparent (but not browned).  Add water and parsley, bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until onions are tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then puree in a blender or food processor.

Meanwhile, in a dutch oven, using medium heat, melt 1/4 cup butter; then stir in the flour, salt and pepper. Gradually add the milk while stirring constantly; then add the pureed onion mixture.

In a small mixing bowl, beat egg yolks; add cream and stir to blend. Add a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of onion mixture and  stir quickly to prevent the egg from coagulating. Then stir the egg and cream mixture into the onion mixture in the dutch oven. Bring to a simmer and then serve.

Lettuce Soup with Egg Balls

Lettuce Soup 2

Each week I browse through hundred-year-old magazines and cookbooks in search of the perfect recipe to feature. Occasionally a reader’s comment provides the inspiration for the recipe I select. Today was one of those times.

A month or so ago, Ronit Penso at Tasty Eats commented on a hundred-year-old menu that mentioned Lettuce Soup:

As for the lettuce soup – it was quite common in classic French cuisine. It’s interesting that it somehow lost popularity. I wonder why. I still use it in certain soups. It adds lots of body and creaminess without making the soup heavy.  . .

Ever since then I’ve had this urge to make a hundred-year-old lettuce soup recipe, and when I saw some awesome leaf lettuce for sale this week, I knew that now was the time to give it a try.

The Lettuce Soup turned out wonderfully, and was good either hot or cold. This nutrient rich soup contains several vegetables which results in a lovely, nuanced combination of flavors that beautifully combine the mild bitterness of the lettuce with the slight tanginess of onions and green pepper. It is lovely when served hot with small, delicate Egg Balls.

And, when served chilled,  this refreshing soup is perfect on a hot summer day. (I skipped the egg balls when I served it cold.)

Here is the recipe for Lettuce Soup with Egg Balls updated for modern cooks:

Lettuce Soup with Egg Balls

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Soup

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 pound lettuce, coarsely chopped (approximately 6 cups, chopped)

2 cups chicken broth

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1/4 cup green pepper, chopped

1 sprig parsley

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/3 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 egg yolk

1 cup milk

1/3 cup cream

Melt butter in large sauce pan. Add the chopped lettuce, and cook using medium heat until the lettuce is wilted, while stirring occasionally (8-10 minutes). Add the chicken broth, onion, green pepper, parsley, cloves, and sugar; cover the saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly; then puree using a blender or food processor. Return the pureed mixture to the pan.

In a mixing bowl, stir the egg yolk into the flour, then add a small amount of milk and stir to create a paste. Gradually add the remaining milk and cream while stirring to create a smooth sauce. Then stir the sauce into pureed lettuce mixture. Heat mixture until hot and steamy using medium heat; stir occasionally.  May be served either hot or chilled. If desired, serve with Egg Balls.

Egg Balls

1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

2 egg yolks

clarified butter or other shortening

Combine bread crumbs and egg yolk  in a bowl. Shape the mixture into 1/2-inch balls. Place the clarified butter or shortening into a frying pan, and heat until hot.  Drop balls into the hot butter, then gently roll the balls with a fork until all sides are a light brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Put several egg balls into each cup of Lettuce Soup.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, June/July, 1915)

Source: Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, June/July, 1915)
Source: Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, June/July, 1915)

The original Lettuce Soup recipe made 12 or more servings, so when I adapted the recipes for modern cooks, I divided the soup ingredients by 3.  The Egg Balls recipe did not seem overly large, so I did not need to make a similar adaptations to that recipe; however, I used one fewer egg yolk in the Egg Balls than called for in the original recipe because the consistency of the dough was better.

Old-fashioned Silky Cauliflower Soup Recipe

Silky Cauliflower Soup

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to lose a few pounds. I’m trying to eat healthy (and January is the perfect time for soup), so I looked through my hundred year-old cookbooks for a soup that was light yet rich and tasty. I wasn’t sure it was possible to find a soup that met my criteria, but I think that I came up with a soup that fits the bill.

I found a recipe for Cauliflower Soup in Lowney’s Cook Book (1912). This milk-based soup is a very smooth, strained soup—and not very thick; so I think that today it would be considered a “silky” soup.

This Silky Cauliflower Soup is lovely, and has a surprisingly subtle cauliflower taste. The soup will warm you up on a cold winter day–plus, it’s light enough that you don’t need to feel guilty.

Here’s my updated version of the recipe for modern cooks:

Silky Cauliflower Soup

  • Servings: 5
  • Time: 40 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 medium head cauliflower, coarsely chopped

water

4 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup chopped onion

4 tablespoons flour

4 cups water

1 egg yolk, beaten

2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Put chopped cauliflower in a saucepan and cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain cooked cauliflower and puree in a blender or food processor.

In the meantime, melt butter in a large saucepan; then add the chopped onions and saute until tender. Stir in the flour, and slowly add 3 cups water while stirring constantly. Stir the egg yolk into the remaining 1 cup water; and then add the egg and water mixture to contents of the large sauce pan while continuing to stir constantly. Add the pureed cauliflower, salt, and pepper to the mixture and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and strain. Return the liquid to the pan and stir in the milk. Heat until hot, then stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Lowney's Cook Book (1912)
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

Old-fashioned Cream of Chives Soup

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, May 12, 1914: <no entry>

DSC08882

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I always look forward to eating the early spring vegetables and fruits. After a long winter, rhubarb, spring greens, asparagus, and chives taste wonderful. Since there’s no diary entry to guide the direction this post takes, I’ll share a recipe for one of my favorite spring foods—Old-fashioned Cream of Chive Soup.

Old-fashioned Cream of Chives Soup

1 cup potatoes, diced

water

1/4 pound bacon, diced

2 cups chives, chopped in small pieces (approximately1/8 inch long)

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

5 cups milk

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Put diced potatoes in a saucepan and just barely cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium; cook until tender (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from heat.

In the meantime put bacon in a Dutch oven or other large pan and begin to fry. About 3-4 minutes before the bacon is crisp, stir in the chopped chives. Continue stirring until the chives are wilted and the bacon is crisp; then stir in flour, salt, and pepper. While continuing to heat, gradually stir in milk. Add cooked potatoes (the water they were cooked in can also be added) and chopped eggs. Reheat until hot; serve.

You might also enjoy these previous posts with recipes for other spring foods:

Rhubarb Sponge Pie

Stewed Rhubarb (Rhubarb Sauce)

Baked Rhubarb with Orange

Rhubarb Pudding

Creamed Asparagus on Toast

Creamed Dandelion

Rivel Soup (Potato Soup with Small Dumplings) Recipe

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, January 6, 1914:  Nothing much doing.

Rivel SoupHer middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

It’s cold here! I like to make old-fashioned hearty soups, like Rivel Soup, on icy days like today. I wonder if the Muffly’s regularly ate soup during the winter months.

Here’s an old recipe of Rivel Soup. It is a potato soup with small dumplings (rivels).

My family often ate this soup when I was a child. I didn’t like it back then, but now my husband and enjoy this nuanced and mild, yet delectable, soup.

Rivel Soup

4 medium-sized potatoes, diced into very small pieces

water

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup flour

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 cups milk

1 cup cream

salt

crumbled crisp bacon

Put the diced potatoes in a large saucepan and just barely cover with water. Cook diced potatoes in water until soft. Add butter and milk.

Meanwhile, to make rivels, combine flour and egg in a bowl.  Drop rivels, which are no larger than a raisin, into the boiling potato mixture, while periodically stirring to prevent the rivels from sticking together.

Cook 5 minutes. Add cream and salt to taste; reheat until hot.  Put into serving bowls and garnish with bacon.

4 servings