Remembering Admiral Dewey and U.S.S. Maine



Every April, I like to think of a frugal recipe to mitigate the financial pain of Tax Day. The following economical recipe is a blond version of onion soup that has ties to the Spanish-American War.

If you ask most Americans what they know about the Spanish-American War, some will know that we should “remember the Maine,” and some will call to mind Teddy Roosevelt leading his Rough Riders up San Juan Hill in Cuba.

It takes a history buff to recall that the greatest hero of the war was Commodore George Dewey.

Financial interests and sensational newspaper articles about Spanish atrocities engaged American sympathies for Cubans in their war for independence. As tensions increased, Commodore Dewey was given command of the American Asiatic fleet. On Feb. 15, 1898, the U.S.S. Maine exploded and sank in Havana Harbor, killing three-quarters of her crew.

Americans blamed Spain for the mysterious explosion. War broke out after Congress passed a resolution demanding that Spain relinquish Cuba and authorizing military force to help the rebels.

Dewey was ordered to engage the enemy. In the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines on May 1, 1898, his squadron captured or sank the entire Spanish Pacific fleet with the loss of only one American life. After that defeat and serious defeats in Cuba, Spain agreed in August to a cease-fire that ended the Spanish-American War.

Dewey’s astonishing victory made him a national hero. The United States emerged as a major naval power in the Pacific and a colonial power, acquiring the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico from Spain. Dewey was later promoted to Admiral of the Navy, a title that was created for him and has never been held by anyone since.

In addition, Manila’s Dewey Boulevard was named after the American admiral. The street boasted many fine restaurants, including the Café de Paris, known for its French onion soup.

The following recipe comes from “The Dewey Cook Book,” which was published as a fundraiser by the Women’s Auxiliary of the YMCA in Montpelier, Vt. The title honors Adm. George Dewey, and the frontispiece shows his birthplace in Montpelier. The cookbook was published in 1899 when Dewey returned home from the Pacific to a succession of celebrations.

Dewey Day was celebrated in lavish fashion in Montpelier on Oct. 12, 1899. The local hero was honored with a parade half a mile long. Red, white and blue light bulbs made an enormous flag on the State House. A tower of wood 69 feet tall was lit for a bonfire behind the State House, and the evening ended with spectacular fireworks.

Cream of Onion Soup
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From “The Dewey Cook Book”
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
Cream of Onion Soup
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
From “The Dewey Cook Book”
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
Ingredients
  • 6 yellow onions sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar optional
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups whole milk or light cream
  • 2 eggs beaten very light
  • Salt and pepper to taste
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Instructions
  1. The first step is slow and tedious but essential to caramelize the natural sugars in the onions and bring out their flavor. So have a book or a phone handy to amuse yourself. You will need a thick-bottomed pan. I use a 9½ inch-wide pot with a nonstick coating. If you double the recipe, you will need a large frying pan for more surface area for water to evaporate from the onions. Brown the onions in the oil and butter over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed so that the onions turn golden brown but don’t burn.
  2. Add the sugar if you are using it to help the browning process. It takes me about 45 minutes to brown the onions. If you want to puree the soup, you should let the onions cool a little and then run them through a food mill. Or you could puree the soup with a stick blender just before adding the milk. I prefer the texture without pureeing.
  3. Once the onions are brown, add the chicken broth and raise the heat to bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. (If you are making this soup ahead of time, you should stop here.)
  4. Stir in the milk or cream. To prevent curdling the eggs, stir about half a cup of the hot soup into the eggs while stirring briskly. Stir in another ½ cup of hot soup and then stir the egg mixture back into the soup over low heat. Cook briefly, just until thickened a little. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
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Merry Post

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