The year was 1912, and you know what I want to talk about? The Titanic. My brother and I were obsessed with the Titanic when we were little. My parents took us to traveling Titanic exhibits in Ocean City, New Jersey and Orlando, Florida to see artifacts brought up from the ocean, and in one case a piece of the hull they’d recovered. We had books on the Titanic, and we watched all of the documentaries about both the history, as well as the dives to the wreckage. We even had a computer game – Titanic: Adventure Out of Time – that we obsessed over. And, since we were little and we couldn’t really figure out strategy, we sent away for the game manual… through the mail!
Titanic fascinated us, and luckily, it fascinated a lot of other people, too, which is why the movie Titanic was made and was a smash hit. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Jack and Rose’s story as much as the next guy, but what I love so much about Titanic [as an adult] is that it truly brought history to life. It gave people, everyday people, the ability to see for themselves what I do – imagine what history really looked like, find stories to tell, and recreate events to set the record straight on what really happened.
Now, of course Jack and Rose were’t real, but look at what else Hollywood showed us. It showed us the grandest ship in the world leaving Southampton in 1912 as onlookers celebrated and cheered. It took us through the ship – from the state rooms the different classes stayed in, to the dining rooms, to the hallways, to the decks, to the cargo holds. It showed us social protocol – how the upperclass acted, interacted, and were expected to behave. And, it showed us how the lower classes were treated, how they were expected to behave, and how they were handled in a crisis. It showed us clothing and style, entertainment – the smoking room for upperclass men, women’s social circles, dancing – food, cars, service jobs. The list goes on and on. And, this is all history – it’s based in history and on historical research. You may not realize it, but James Cameron and his team presented a film that did exactly what I’m trying to do (granted on a much smaller scale) right now – bring history to life for you in the present!
So, what are we cooking? Cream of carrot and onion soup from The Golden Rule Cook Book: Six Hundred Recipes for Meatless Dishes published in 1912.
Despite its title, this is not a “cream” soup at all. It’s not thick at all, and it’s actually pretty light and tasty.
So, let’s imagine we’re about to sit down in the Café Parisien onboard the Titanic for a quick lunch before we explore the decks. The sun is out, the breeze is light and cool, and there’s nothing but ocean surrounding us. Let’s go – into the kitchen to make history!
Here are our ingredients: Carrots, onion, butter, salt, pepper, flour, and milk.
Step 1: Wash, peel, and grate the carrots. I ended up using six carrots to make two cups of crated carrot. Don’t worry if your hands turn a little orange during this step – it just shows how hard you’re working!
Step 2: Chop up an onion. My onion was enormous, so I only used half of it. Use your judgement – however much onion you want is exactly the right amount!
Step 3: Melt a tablespoon of butter in a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat.
Step 4: Add the onion and the carrot you worked so hard to grate! Cook the vegetables in the butter for ten minutes.
Step 4.1: After ten minutes, the mixture will look pretty much the same. but you can see that the carrot is soft and the onions are translucent. Progress!
Step 5: Add four cups of cold water. At this point, too, season your soup. I added a teaspoon of salt (it might seem like a lot, but vegetables need salt to give them flavor, so don’t be afraid!) and a sprinkling of black pepper.
Step 6: Boil the soup for twenty minutes with the lid off. Medium high heat worked well for me here – that way, my soup was never in danger of boiling over.
Step 7: Stir a tablespoon of flour into a cup of milk, then add that to the soup. Check again for seasoning. I added another half teaspoon of salt and another sprinkling of black pepper. Go with what you like, though. That’s most important! Then, I left the soup on the heat just until it started to steam. Just let it het hot all the way through. Then, I shut off the heat, and as it sat waiting to be dinner, it thickened slightly on its own.
Final step: Ladle the soup into a bowl and enjoy!
Picture it – the year is 1912, and you’ve set off for America from Southampton, England on the grandest ship in the world. You’re sitting in the Café Parisien being served a quick lunch. The wooden floors are polished and gleaming. The white, wicker tables and chairs match the white walls covered in trellises laced with greenery. People talk excitedly around you, and you can feel their energy. You could be on the sidewalks of Paris, but you look out the window and see nothing but open ocean. The ocean breeze wafts in as the carrot soup arrives. You take a deep breath. Anything is possible.
From 1912: Cream of Carrot and Onion
- 2 cups grated carrot
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 Tbs. butter
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup milk
- 1 Tbs. flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat.
- Add the carrots and onion. Fry for ten minutes.
- Add four cups of water. Season with 1 tsp. of salt and a sprinkle of black pepper. Boil for twenty minutes.
- Dissolve the flour in the milk. Add to the saucepan. Adjust seasonings.
- Heat soup through until steaming, then shut off heat. Rest for a few minutes before serving.