What’s Cooking Wednesday: A Commander-in-Chef’s Recipe for Vegetable Soup

Today’s post comes from Gregory Marose, an intern in the National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications.

President Eisenhower cooking for friends at a cookout at Camp David, 8/14/1960 (67-381-2, Eisenhower Library)

The only five-star general ever to be elected President of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower was a man of many accomplishments. That is why it should come as no surprise that Ike was a leader in the kitchen as well.

Throughout his Presidency, Eisenhower used the kitchen on the third floor of the White House to prepare his own soups and stews. A cookbook in the Eisenhower Presidential Library includes detailed recipes for old-fashioned beef stew, Mexican chili, and vegetable soup.

Since the 34th President was particularly fond of vegetable soup, his personal recipe can be found on the library’s web site.

According to the Eisenhower recipe, a good beef soup bone and a couple of pounds of beef or mutton are essential for flavoring. All of the meat should be placed in a kettle along with five quarts of water. It is important at this point to add a teaspoon of salt, a dash of black pepper, and some chopped garlic or onion. Once these instructions have been followed, the soup should be left to boil until the meat literally falls off of the bone.

Next, the kettle and stock should be placed in a very cool setting all night and until you are ready to make your soup the next day. A hard layer of fat will form on top of the stock, but it can be easily removed because the kettle will have jelled nicely. If you prefer a very rich and hearty soup, only remove half of the fat.

Now it gets easier! Heat the kettle until it bubbles and then begin mixing in your vegetables. Do not dump the vegetables in all at once, though, because some will cook more quickly than others.

The vegetables used by President Eisenhower are:
1 qt. can of canned tomatoes
½ teacupful of fresh peas
2 normal sized potatoes, diced into cubes of about half-inch size
2 or 3 branches of good celery
1 good-sized onion. (sliced)
3 nice-sized carrots diced about the same size as potatoes
1 turnip diced like the potatoes
½ cup of canned corn
A handful of raw cabbage cut up in small pieces

When the soup is almost fully cooked, add some barley and a tablespoon of prepared gravy seasoning. Continue to taste for flavor and add a bit of water until finished.

Ike’s original recipe is more detailed, and he inserted many asides—for example, giving your dogs or the neighbors’ chickens leftover meat from the stock. This recipe and more from other Presidential libraries and the wider holdings of the National Archives are published in Eating with Uncle Sam: Recipes and Historical Bites from the National Archives, a cookbook produced in conjunction with the exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” in Washington, DC.

For more information about this recipe or any of Dwight Eisenhower’s favorite foods, you can check out the “Ike and Mamie’s Favorites” web page.

2 thoughts on “What’s Cooking Wednesday: A Commander-in-Chef’s Recipe for Vegetable Soup

  1. Americans in that era had almost no sense of taste, and that includes the President. It is hard to find any recipe from before about 1980 that could be served in a fine dining restaurant today. Of course there are some classics, but overall Americans were eating very simple, very basic food back then.

    1. Yes and that was before obesity in America became an epidemic. Hmm. Maybe there is something to simple with really good ingredients?

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