Simple and nourishing, this Shaker Tomato and Rice Soup is the perfect winter warmer. With a theme this week of “soups and stews” (just the thing for the deep freeze of mid-January), I once again headed to the Yankee archives in search of a recipe that would pique both my interest and my appetite. Each […]
By Aimee Tucker
Jan 20 2015
Shaker Tomato and Rice Soup.Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
With a theme this week of “soups and stews” (just the thing for the deep freeze of mid-January), I once again headed to the Yankee archives in search of a recipe that would pique both my interest and my appetite. Each is easy enough on its own, but combining the two can sometimes be tricky. For example, I found TWO recipes for “Coot Stew” in the archives — once in October 1958 (“Barnstable Coot Stew”) and again in 1979 (this time without the Barnstable) that definitely appealed to my sense of “What the what!?” — but actually order a bowl? Probably not, though I’m sure the dish (coots are water birds, FYI) is perfectly tasty.
This Shaker-style Tomato and Rice Soup from 1988, however, was just right.
In that summer issue, the soup ran alongside pieces on the wildlife of New Hampshire’s Lake Umbagog, a guide to small seaside dwellings, and a whopper list of New England’s public campgrounds. The price? $1.95 for nearly 150 (digest-sized) pages.
Back then, for recipes, Yankee ran a column called “Great New England Cooks” (similar to the more recent “Best Cook in Town,” but longer), and in the August issue the featured cook was Eldress Bertha Lindsay of Canterbury Shaker Village in Canterbury, New Hampshire. I’ve visited the village many times throughout my life and have long admired the Shakers, a religious sect founded in 18th century England, known for their pacifism, communal lifestyle, emphasis on simplicity, and (last but never least) their culinary prowess. At its height in the 1850s, 300 Shakers lived and worked in over 100 buildings on 3,000 acres in Canterbury, including Bertha Lindsay, who spent her life there from 1905 (when she arrived as a young orphan) until she died in 1990. She published Seasoned with Grace: My Generation of Shaker Cooking in 1987, and the following year, we ran some of her favorite recipes, including squash biscuits, rose water apple pie, and this tomato rice soup. Soon after Lindsay’s death the village became a wonderful museum dedicated to preserving the 200-year legacy of the Canterbury Shakers. I highly urge you to visit the next time you’re in the area.
My initial thoughts on this soup were that it appeared flavorful and simple (just tomatoes, rice, and sour cream with a little sugar and seasonings), but I did make an immediate decision to swap out the fresh tomatoes for canned. In January, the fresh tomatoes I come across in the supermarket aren’t looking their best, and the canned crushed tomatoes I used instead worked fine. I also added a crumble of soda crackers, because this is New England, and I can’t help it.
So how did it taste? Pretty much exactly as I hoped — creamy, nourishing, and full of good tomato flavor. If you like a thick and creamy soup, give it a try as-is, but you can also stir in a little milk just before serving if you find the texture to be a little too thick. I did this when re-heating the soup, and it worked like a charm. A grilled cheese on the side also sounds like an excellent idea.
Are you a fan of Shaker cooking? Which winter soup or stew tops your list?
In the next “Yankee Seeker Meets Yankee Archives” we’ll be tackling a classic New England dessert, so stay tuned!