Local Flavor

Davio’s Ladles the Soup That Saved America

Pepper Pot Soup
Pepper Pot Soup Photo: Davio’s

We all know that without pepper pot soup, the United States as we know would likely still be under British rule. As the legend has it, the African-Caribbean mishmash of heavily peppered broth, tripe and veal shanks was the only thing that kept Washington’s troops from freezing their cannonballs off at Valley Forge in the Winter of 1777. And just the same, it’s the soup that saved the life of Davio’s chef David Boyle one frigid New Year’s Day back in 1992. “I went to see the Mummers parade and it was one of those New Year’s where it was 10 degrees out,” Boyle told Grub Street. “I was freezing, so we went to the bar at the Four Seasons to thaw out. I noticed they had it on the menu, and I was like, ‘Let me try that!’ It was great. The flavor was intense. It and the bourbon I had with it, kept me from being frozen to death.”

This week and for a limited time in the weeks to come, Boyle will have the lifesaving soup on at Davio’s. His version is based loosely on traditional recipes he researched over the years. As tradition dictates, he uses veal shanks, tripe and copious amounts of pepper to build the broth. “But we add some other things to jazz it up, because, you know, we’re a restaurant.”

“We haven’t served it in a couple of years,” Boyle said. “But when we do, it sells like gangbusters.”

Davio’s Ladles the Soup That Saved America