Pepper Pot Soup is also called the “soup that won the war.” That would be the Revolutionary War. On December 29, 1777, the Continental Army was freezing in camp at Valley Forge. Conditions were terrible and the army lacked sufficient warm clothing, medicines, and especially food. Fearing for both his men’s health and morale, General Washington instructed the Baker General, Christopher Ludwick, to use whatever food he could find to make a meal sufficient to feed all in the camp.
Ludwick was an interesting character, born in Germany in 1720, who ended up in Philadelphia where he started a bakery, gingerbread and confectionary business. The Continental Congress appointed him Baker General to the American army. Ludwick supplied bread for the army, baking as many as 6,000 pounds of bread in one day. Washington relied on his advice and sought him out regarding the provisioning of the army.
Perhaps Ludwick was just close at hand on the 29th of December, 1777. Or maybe he was the only person with some culinary experience in that dreadfully cold and desperate place. Washington asked Ludwick to provide sustenance that would warm the bodies and revive the spirits of a beleaguered army. The Baker General searched the area for scraps of meat, tripe, whatever else was available, and acquired some peppercorns. All the ingredients went into the pot, simmering into a thick mixture of nutrition and spice. It became known as Pepper Pot Soup – the soup that won the war, a tradition that is still observed today by those who remember the story.