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SoupTale: It was in Valley Forge, during the bitter winter of 1777-1778, that hunger soared and hope quailed in America's poor Continental Army. General Washington asked his cook to feed his men at any cost. With only scraps of tripe from the butcher and a handful of peppercorns, the cook produced a hearty soup--the creation of Pepper Pot Soup. The rest is history....

Old Fashioned Pepper Pot
with Dumplings


Here's another "memory lane" soup--traditional in hometown Philadelphia--as evocative as, yo, a madeleine any old day. In my family--and my great grandmother was the queen of pepper pot--cognoscenti insisted on a sprinkle of cider vinegar at the table. Serve hot as a slender meal to 4 people.

Bring water, veal or beef bone, bay leaves, chili pepper, and salt slowly to a boil. Skim the solids as the pot comes to a boil. Add the tripe, then immediately reduce heat. Simmer for at least 2 and 1/2 hours.

Remove the bone, bay leaves, pepper, and onion. Take out the tripe, then slice into paper thin strips and mince crosswise. Skim the fat off the top of the stock and return the tripe to the pot with the diced potatoes. Thin with boiling water so it's nicely soupy. Allow to simmer until you're ready to serve--hours, if possible, as you want the tripe to be as tender as possible.

When ready to serve, rub the marjoram into the pot between the heels of your hands. Bring soup to a good simmer, then drop in dumplings and cook until they are done. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately with a cruet of cider vinegar on the table for final flavoring.

To make dumplings: Cut 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of butter or lard into 1 cup of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Then stir in 1/2 cup of milk gradually. Flour hands--and roll dough into small balls.