On this day in 1777, during the Revolutionary War, the baker of the Continental Army Christopher Ludwick concocted a brilliant, if unorthodox for the times, thick, hearty stew to feed the near starving soldiers at Valley Forge. The soldiers were low on food because the local farmers were selling food supplies to the British for cash rather than the weak currency offered up by the Continental Army. Good chefs are always resourceful and evidently Ludwick was no exception. He scoured the countryside and was able to find scraps of tripe, meat and some peppercorn. Combining these with other seasonings to create the hot, spicy soup we now know as pepper pot or “the soup that won the war”.
Win your own war against the cold and make a pot, here is a recipe for you!!
Philadelphia Pepper Pot Recipe
1.5lb cleaned, precooked honeycomb tripe
3 tbsps butter
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
Bunch fresh thyme
Bunch fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves
3-5 tbsps black peppercorns, crushed
1 veal knuckle
2 litres beef stock (optional)
Wash the tripe well in cold water. Put it in a large pan, cover with cold water and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain, leave to cool, then chop into smallish cubes. Melt the butter and sauté the vegetables and garlic until soft. And the herbs and spices. Return the tripe to the pan with the veal knuckle and add the stock if using. Cover the ingredients with cold water, bring to a simmer and remove any scum. Simmer gently for 1.5-2 hours.
Remove the veal knuckle and allow to cool, then remove the meat from the bone. Chop this roughly and return it to the pan to warm through. Season to taste.
Ladle the soup into hot bowls, scatter with freshly chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread (and with cayenne pepper for those who like it extra hot.)