Dec 28, 2011
National Pepper Pot Day ~ Dec. 29
Pepper Pot is a spicy, hot soup flavored with, you guessed it, pepper. On National Pepper Pot Day we celebrate Pepper Pot as, "the soup that won the [American Revolutionary] war".
The tale is told that during the cold, harsh winter of 1777, George Washington's troops, who had set up winter quarters at Valley Forge, were in a sorry state. They were sparsely clothed, cold, tired, and hungry. Food rations were meager due to farmers in the area opting to sell their goods to British Soldiers for cash rather than to the Continental soldiers for their weak currency.
On December 29, 1777, seeing that the troops' moral was low, General Washington instructed his cook, baker general Christopher Ludwick, to concoct something, "that will warm and strengthen the body of a soldier and inspire his flagging spirit". Ludwick gathered together whatever ingredients he could find including: tripe (cow's stomach), meat scraps, root vegetables, and peppercorns, threw them together in a pot and simmered it to a warm, hearty soup that did indeed strengthen the soldiers frail bodies and lifted their flagging spirits, aiding them in their conquest of the British soldiers.
Some sources suggest that Christopher Ludwick created Pepper Pot soup. What he did, in probability, was draw upon the knowledge he had of a hot pepper soup, called Callaloo, that had been introduced to that part of the country by immigrants from the West Indies. He changed it up, using the ingredients he had on hand, to create his own version of the peppery soup which is known as Philadelphia Pepper Pot soup. This is not at all to minimize the life saving influence his hearty creation had on the Continental soldiers and the impact it had on Philadelphia cuisine.
If you would like to try your hand at making this historic soup, here is an authentic Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup recipe from Allrecipes.com.
You may enjoy watching the following videos. The first is from The Food Network's, "Best Thing I Ever Ate". It features a version of Pepper Pot soup using beef rather than tripe. The second video features an authentic Caribbean Pepper Pot, or "Callaloo" soup.
Sources: theoldfoodie.com wikipedia.org wisegeek.com