Joined: 14 May 2007
Location: Gallatin, TN
Real Name: Jason W. Gatliff
|Posted: Tue May 22, 2007 10:59 pm Post subject: Portable Soup
|Portable soup seems to have lots of discussion on it contents, after doing some research this is
what I found documented.
In the book "Lewis & Clark - The Journey of the Corps of Discovery" by
Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns -ISBN 0-679-45450-0 on page 10 (half way down
"Besides these crash courses in science, Lewis spent his time in
Philadelphia acquiring supplies-and going through most of the $2,500
Congress had appropriated. He bought compasses, quadrants, a telescope, and
a chronometer (costing $250) needed to calculate longitude. For the camp
supplies, he purchased 150 yards of cloth to be oiled and sewn into tents
and sheets; pliers, chisels, handsaws, hatchets, and whetstones; an iron
corn mill and two dozen tablespoons; mosquito curtains, 10-1/2 pounds of
fishing hooks and fishing lines, 12 pounds of soap-and 193 pounds of
"portable soup", a thick paste concocted by boiling down beef, eggs, and
vegetables, to be used if no other food was available on the trail."
" "The Journal of Lewis & Clark" by DeVoto, "Lewis & Clark; Pioneering
Naturalists" by Cutright, "Lewis & Clark's Return" by Nasatir, "Lewis &
Clark & the Image of the American Northwest" by John Allen, "An American
Journey - Lewis & Clark" by Thorp and "Lewis & Clark's Plans & Preparations"
"In all of these books I found only two of them that made reference to
"portable soup", those being "An American Journey - Lewis & Clark" by Thorp
and "Lewis & Clark's Plans & Preparations" by Jones.
With the answer to your question according to these sources are:
1. "An American Journey - Lewis & Clark" - [150 pounds (68kg) of "portable
soup" - a dried or condensed soup - as emergency rations, ....]
2. "Lewis & Clark's Plans & Preparations" - [carried a "portable soup", a
paste concocted by boiling down meat, bird eggs, and foraged vegetables,].
I will still look at the "Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark
Expedition" by Arno now that you have started my interests again after
leaving the subject lie for several years. I will also check my files when I
still owned "Clark & Sons Mercantile"
"One of the best research books on this time period is straight from the
horses mouth; "Thomas Jefferson's Garden Book" by Edwin Morris Betts -
published by the American Philosophical Society 1944, covers from 1766 -
As a last resource I looked in "Only One Man Died" [Medical Aspects of the
Lewis & Clark Expedition] by Eldon G. Chuinard, M.D. Ye Galleon Press,
Fairfield, Wash.  Now I have hit pay dirt for the term "portable soup",
no wonder I could not find it's substance, Lewis only listed the amount and
how it was carried, he or Clark DID NOT give any list of the substance or
recipe to make this item. Seems what others have written is what the
military of the time used under the direction of "Nurses and Orderly Men".
"An important purchase also made by Isabel Wheelen for Lewis was "193
lb.. of Portable Soup." This portable soup was contained in lead canisters
 and may have been either a dry powder or a thick liquid substance.
There is no known record to the portable soups used by armed forces at the
time. Cutbush describes the preparation of a portable soup, or "Tablettes de
bouillon (Under Direction to Nurses and Orderly Men for the Preparation of
the diet, &c. for the sick.)":
"Take calves' feet, 4; the lean part of a rump of beef 12 pounds; fillet
of veal 3 pounds; leg of mutton 10 pounds. These are to be boiled in a
sufficient quantity of water and the scum taken off. When the meat becomes
very tender, the liquor is to be separated from it by expression; and when
cold, the fat must be carefully taken off. The jelly-like substance must
then be dissolved over the fire and clarified with five or six whites of
eggs. It is then to be salted to the taste and boiled down to the
consistency of paste, when it is poured out on a marble table and cut into
pieces, either round or square, and dried in a stove room. Then perfectly
hard, they should be put up in close vessels of tine or glass. Powered rice,
beans, peas, barley, celery, with any grateful aromatice may be added; but
for the use of the sick it should be made plain. It may be simply made
either of beef, mutton, or veal". 
Lewis wrote from Fredricktown on April 15, 1803, to General William Irvine
regarding the preparation of portable soup for the Expedition.  The soup
was prepared by Francois Baillet, cook at 21 North Ninth street,
Philadelphia, who presented a bill on May 30, 1803, for 193 pounds of
Portable soup in the amount of #289.50.  The soup was ready in plenty of
time and Lewis receipted for it  and took it with him overland to
Pittsburgh, where he was to embark on the Ohio River. DeVoto  called
the portable soup an army experimental iron ration. hardly a correct
description; iron was contained in the meat...
 Chuinard "Only One Man Died", pp. 160-161.
 Lewis specifically mentions the portable soup being contained in
"canisters" in his note of Sept. 18,1805; also in his list of supplies he
includes "32 cannisters of P. Soup," Thwaites, Journals, vii, p. 239.
 Cutbush, "Preserving the Health, pp. 314-15.
 Gen. William Irvine (1741-1804) was a physician and supt. of military
stores with headquarters in Philadelphia.
 Jackson, "Letters", p.28.
 "Ibid.", p.82.
 DeVoto, "Course of Empire", p.505.
This is interesting as to which source is correct, several got the amount
the same, as far as to its real content - guess thats up to what book you
use as reference> This should close the matter of "portable soup"
Submitted by: Buck Conner for Concho Smith - email@example.com on July 21, 2003
Jason W. Gatliff