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Colonial Soups

A short article to enable you with a more in-depth understanding of how colonial soups played a significant role in the diet of our ancestors. Quick and easy ingredients range with these recipes, and yet, they can be so complex with the addition of various spices. The region’s harvest tends to embellish the meal depending greatly on the failure or success of such crops. In saying this, root crops make their presence known with these recipes much more frequently than plants producing above ground. Still, the most decisive ingredient of all is water. Social status or rank also factors into the planning and preparing the dish. So, the importance of three main components has already shown the association with these soups even before we have prepared one single ingredient. They are the regional output of crops, availability of spices, and social status.

Onions would appear to be the most common elements of colonial soups. Various types of onions grow wild throughout the nation today and were no different during the colonial period. The population witnessed a comeback with this ingredient during the 1950s with french onion dry soup packets. For the colonial period, the average onion stacks up well above the rest in early soups. Other leading candidates are carrots and potatoes, each adding their flavor and texture to the final result. Beans, peas, squash, corn, and tomatoes are at the mercy of a successful harvest and vary with different species, tastes, and regions.

The availability of spices relies on several factors, one being British imports. Primary trading practices with the colonists produced the dependency on pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Changes begin to adapt into the soups before the war of independence by adding local spices such as spearmint leaves, raspberry leaves, and many other local herbs. Massachusetts and the Salem Pepper Trade were responsible for an overwhelming amount of pepper transported in 1806 on the ship Eliza resulting in 500 tons or 1 million pounds of pepper. These independent trade deals kept the colonists thriving with abundant spices after the American Revolutionary War.

Preparing the soup depends on the ingredients, but for the most part, it required the cooking of the main element by frying or boiling. Then, combining this mixture with either water, milk, cream, or a meat broth to allow the main texture of the soup to emerge. Next, add additional spices to flavor and slow cook until done. Dry ingredients prepared and stored would become soup meals later. When mixed with water and brought to a boil, these dry ingredients would produce a tasty soup for weary travelers on the colonial roads.

Often, what was left from the day before became a soup for the next day’s main meal. Prime examples of this would result in leftover meats. Cooked vegetables from the previous day, when added, create additional flavor and texture to the soup. There are many tricks of the trade when it comes to colonial cooking and soups.

The social status regarding soups depends primarily on the resources at hand. Everyone had access to a soup meal, but the prestigious and high-ranked colonial members had access to the finest ingredients available. The social status regards soups by not only taste but by the entire presentation.

Take time to look further into colonial soups and discover a meal that every colonial home served at one time or another. Picture the fire crackling and the slow simmering of the pot. The aroma fills the air as the lid moves just slightly, and the spoon slowly stirs. It’s almost ready. What colonial soup are you serving today?

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