FoodHistoryTRENDING

Colonial Classics: Onion Soup Fit for a Royal Governor

From The House of the Seven Gables

Royal governor John Wentworth may have had to flee Portsmouth, N.H., in the dark of night when the Revolutionary War broke out, but the luscious onion soup recipe named after him apparently refused to budge.

On Wednesday, November 3, from 6 to 7 p.m., all are invited to sign on to a live, virtual cooking demonstration hosted by Kaylee Redard and The House of the Seven Gables. As the fall chill deepens, Redard kicks off a new season of Colonial Classics food demonstrations with a recipe from the “The Early American Cookbook: Authentic Favorites for the Modern Kitchen” by Dr. Kristie Lynn and Robert W. Pelton, available at the Museum Store. Use this link to register. It’s free, but The Gables greatly appreciates donations of $10, when possible, to help cover costs and to support the Settlement programs. 

This season’s cooking theme is colonial comfort — what early New Englanders turned to when a warm quilt didn’t quite do it. Sir John Wentworth’s Onion Soup warmed and comforted from the inside out. “The soup is delicious,” says Redard. “Of course, there’s a good amount of butter involved.” 

Redard, assistant visitor services manager at The Gables and host of a new Gables’ podcast, available through Apple podcasts, has hosted several cooking demonstrations this year. She’s worked her way through breakfasts, dinners and sweets, and is now exploring soups, cakes, ice cream — “things you might reach for when comfort is called for.”

Part of the appeal of Colonial Classics is the dip into food history. Those participating in the hour-long demonstration and open discussion will hear some background on this recipe. All in attendance are invited to join in the discussion and ask questions while Redard makes a pot of Sir John Wentworth’s Onion Soup. 

Redard says she will invite speculation on what led hardy New Englanders to pause for comfort food in the 17th and 18thcenturies, what triggers our need for comfort foods today and whether comfort foods have changed over the decades. Also up for exploration is how food preparation and ingredients have evolved over the last 350 years since the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, also known as The House of the Seven Gables, was first built and occupied. While onion soup was once made in a cauldron over hot coals, its appeal warms the heart to this day.

“Comfort means different things to different people,” says Redard. “It will be interesting to compare what comfort looked like back then and now.”

Further Colonial Classics demonstrations featuring comfort foods are scheduled for Dec. 1, and in 2022 on Jan. 5, Feb. 2 and March 2 — all Wednesdays from 6 to 7 p.m.


About The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association 

The mission of The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association is to be a welcoming, thriving, historic site and community resource that engages people of all backgrounds in our inclusive American story. For more information visit www.7gables.org

Stories are at the core of what we do at The House of the Seven Gables. They are not just a part of our past, but also our present and future. In 2021, we look forward to exploring the lore of our historic site and surrounding community with a special series of lectures, programs and events.

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