Sobaheg — Surprisingly Flavorful Historical Soup

A few weeks ago, I posted a story about what the first Thanksgiving meal looked like, which was based on the work of a food anthropologist, Julie Lesnik. Among the many foods available at that time and place — including venison, waterfowl, cornbread but no potatoes or cranberries — was a stew called “Sobaheg.” Anything with a name like that needs to be tried out, so we did over this last Thanksgiving.

Sobaheg Preparation

Ingredients ready to go.

Sobaheg is a Wampanoag recipe. The Wampanoag were the first peoples in contact with the religious refugees/zealots we know as the Pilgrims. We used the recipe from The main ingredients are bird (chicken, turkey, or duck, although a venison version is also listed on the recipe page), dried white beans, green beans, hominy (dried corn

First ingredients in the pressure cooker.

kernels soaked in lime water to soften and release nutrients), winter squash, and sunflower seeds ground to a flour. The dried beans, meat, and seasonings (salt, dried onion, garlic) are simmered for 2 1/2 hr (or 10 min in a pressure cooker), until the beans are just about done. We used the turkey neck for this recipe and removed the meat from the bones at this point. Now the rest of the ingredients are added and simmered for another 1/2 hr. At the very end, when the squash and beans are soft, add the nut flour and give it a stir. It may need a bit more salt, so give it a taste.

Sobaheg on the table next to butternut squash hasselback.

The hominy has a nice texture in a soup that I hadn’t had before. The nut flour thickens the broth and gives an umami aspect to it as well. It tastes good the day of and even better the next day, once the flavors have had a night to mingle. This recipe is going into our regular rotation. It’s good and the ingredients can be grown in our garden.YumInBowl


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