December 29 is National Pepper Pot Day

Today is National Pepper Pot Day. Pepper pot soup has been called the soup that won the Revolutionary War. By the time American troops reached Valley Forge on December 19, 1777, in the midst of a harsh winter, soldiers and the many wives, mothers and children who accompanied them were running desperately low on provisions. Local farmers refused the weak continental currency carried by General George Washington’s troops, instead selling their crops to the British.

On December 23, Washington wrote to the Continental Congress, “…I am now convinced, beyond a doubt that unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place in that line, this Army must inevitably be reduced to one or other of these three things. Starve, dissolve, or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can; rest assured Sir this is not an exaggerated picture, but that I have abundant reason to support what I say.”

According to legend, on December 29, Washington instructed chief cook Christopher Ludwick to make a soup “that will warm and strengthen the body of a soldier and inspire his flagging spirit.” Only scraps re­mained in the kit­chen ex­cept for beef tripe donated by a nearby butcher, and pep­per­corns, a gift from a Ger­man­town pat­ri­ot. Ludwick combined them and named the soup Philadelphia Pepper Pot, a re­mind­er of Amer­ica’s claim to the Brit­ish-held city.

national pepper pot day

Because Ludwick hailed from Philadelphia, which was then a center of the slave trade, it’s thought that his pepper pot soup was an Americanized version of Jamaican callaloo. If you’d like to make it yourself, try this version from Northeast Times which states, “Al­though this re­cipe may not be identic­al to the Val­ley Forge ori­gin­al, you know it’s bound to be of­fal good. Still, some people just don’t have the stom­ach for it.” (There’s nothing like a good tripe-based pun!)

Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup

2 me­di­um onions, diced
1 small green pep­per, diced
3 stalks cel­ery, diced
1 lb. tripe, cut in­to small, bite-sized pieces
4 Tb­sp. but­ter
3 qts. wa­ter
1 beef mar­row bone or 1 veal knuckle bone
1 tsp. ground pep­per
1/2 tsp. cay­enne pep­per
2 tsp. salt
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried mar­joram
2 me­di­um car­rots, diced
2 me­di­um pota­toes, diced
1 can to­ma­toes, (16 oz.)
1/4 cup pars­ley, chopped
1 tsp. dried mar­joram

Tripe Pre­par­a­tion:

– Blanch tripe be­fore adding to soup.
– Wash tripe well.
– Put tripe in a pot, cov­er with wa­ter and add 1 tsp. salt.
– Bring to a boil and al­low to cook for three minutes.
– Pour off wa­ter and cov­er tripe with cold wa­ter.
– Drain again.
– Cut tripe in­to small, bite-sized pieces with kit­chen shears.


– In a soup pot, saute onions, green pep­per, cel­ery and tripe in but­ter for about 10 minutes.
– Add wa­ter, bone, pep­pers, salt, bay leaves, thyme and mar­joram.
– Cov­er and al­low soup to sim­mer for 45 minutes.
– Add car­rots, pota­toes, to­ma­toes and pars­ley.
– Con­tin­ue to sim­mer for 30 minutes.
– Re­move bay leaves.

Be­fore serving, you can add the fol­low­ing spaet­zle to the soup, if de­sired.


1/2 cup flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 Tb­sp. milk

– Mix to­geth­er flour and salt, and make a well in cen­ter of flour.
– Put egg and milk in­to well and beat them slightly with a fork.
– Mix egg mix­ture and flour in­to a sticky dough.
– Drop about 1/3 tsp. of the bat­ter at a time in­to the sim­mer­ing soup.
– Al­low to sim­mer a few minutes un­til done.

Feeling a little less adventurous? Substitute chicken for the tripe. Feed your inner patriot on National Pepper Pot Day.

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

2 replies
  1. Hélène
    Hélène says:

    Just substitute a lb of heart or kidneys when simmering soup and forgo the tripe rigamorole. Still offal good!
    (cook it for about 30 min and remove offal, dice or slice and no one will know if they didnt catch ya)
    Poultry neck bones add good flavor and have a bit of meat too, good when using poultry offal already.


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