Soup’s on in Revolutionary New Jersey!

January is National Soup Month, which led us to wonder about the various soups and stews that Colonial-era New Jerseyans might have made to sustain themselves through the cold winters of the Revolution. Over the years, chapter members of New Jersey Society of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) have collected and shared family recipes that reflect the spirit of those hearty dishes.

We asked DAR members Pat Sanftner and Jan Hunold to help us source some representative soup recipes, and the two below are among the heartier options they uncovered. Why not try one out on a cold winter day, and let us know what you think!

Split pea soup was very popular and a regular on the colonial meal table. Jan selected the following recipe, contributed to the General William Maxwell Chapter, NJDAR cookbook from ladies of the Fritts family, several of whom have been chapter members over the years. Their Patriot was Capt. Simon Addis, who served in Middlesex County.

Dutch Split Pea Soup

9 cups water
1 pound dried split peas (about 2.5 cups)
2 pounds smoked pork hocks
4 stalks celery (with leaves), sliced
1.5 tsp crushed dried savory leaves
1.5 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ pound smoked, cooked sausage*
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 leeks, sliced

Heat water and peas to boiling in a Dutch oven; boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Add pork hocks, celery, savory, salt, pepper, garlic and leeks to peas. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer until pork is tender, about 2 hours. Skim fat if necessary. Remove pork hocks; cool slightly. Trim fat and bone from pork. Cut pork into ½ inch pieces. Stir pork and sausage into soup. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer until sausage is hot, 10-15 minutes. Remove sausage and slice. Serve sausage with pumpernickel and prepared mustard, or add to soup. Makes 8 servings.

* Recipe note: Dutch-type smoked sausage, Polish kielbasa, knockwurst or frankfurters could be used.


Pat suggests this Beef soup recipe researched by Susan Luczu of the Jersey Blue Chapter of the DAR and originally published in 1833 in a cookbook called “The American Frugal Housewife.”

The book is “Dedicated to those not ashamed of Economy” and further instructs that “Beef soup should be stewed four hours over a slow fire. Just water enough to keep the meat covered. If you have any bones left of roast meat, it is a good plan to boil them with the meat, and take them out half an hour before the soup is done. A pint of flour and water, with salt, pepper, twelve or sixteen onions should be put in before the soup is done. Be careful and not throw in salt and pepper too plentifully; it is easy to add to it, and not easy to diminish. A lemon, cut up and put in half an hour before it is done, adds to the flavor. If you have tomato catsup in the house, a cupful will make a rich soup. Some people put in crackers; some thin slices of crust, made nearly as short as common shortcake; and some stir up two or three eggs with milk and flour, and drop it in with a spoon.”

Susan supplied this version of the recipe for more modern cooks. You’ll see that it includes a note that the soup pot should be hung by crane over an open fire, but we’re sure that current day cooks will make a satisfying version on a modern stove.

Beef Soup

1 Tbsp. lard or bacon fat
2-3 lb. stew beef

  • Melt fat, brown meat in medium to large HOT cast iron pot. Then add:

1 medium. onion, peeled/diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled/minced
1 cup sliced celery
2 cups scraped/sliced carrots
1 medium turnip, peeled/diced

  • Cook 5-10 minutes with meat and add:

8 quarts beef stock
2 quarts tomatoes
4 Tbsp. catsup
1 Tbsp. dried marjoram
salt and pepper to taste

  • Hang on crane over fire, bring to a boil. Move pot to keep soup at a simmer; cook gently 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • 45 minutes before serving, test seasoning and adjust; stir in potatoes – cook 30 minutes; stir in flour/butter mix, continue cooking to thicken.

1 cup peeled/diced potatoes
3 Tbsp. flour mixed with 3 Tbsp. butter to thicken soup

  • Serve hot with your favorite bread or biscuits.