Soup’s On! How Soups Became a Solution to Food Rationing During World War I

Image with Article titled "Bank Left-Over Meats and Vegetables For Next Day's Soup, Advises Biddy Bye."

During World War I, food was often rationed and sold for an expensive price. As a result, everything was saved and used down to the last scrap. As the article in July 25, 1917 Perth Amboy Evening News mentions, cooks experimented with different soup recipes based on what they had available, abiding by Uncle Sam’s command to “save everything.”

Article titled "Feeds 50,000 in Brussels: American Commission Has Largest Soup Kitchen in the World."

In addition, as a result of the war, soup kitchens opened up in Europe. As mentioned in February 19, 1915 Perth Amboy Evening News, the American Commission organized a soup kitchen in Belgium to feed nearly 50,000 people every day.

America did not see the rise of organized soup kitchens until the beginning of the Great Depression as a result of the devastating economic crisis, where they also became a major lifeline for the poor and unemployed.

Another influence from the housewives of Europe on America was “waterless soup”, as seen in the advertisement below from the April 19, 1913 issue of the Newark evening star and Newark advertiser. This ad claims “one 10c box of Puro soup makes 5 large plates.” This was also used as a part of the war rationing efforts.

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(Contributed by Kristi Chanda and Giovanna Ligato-Pugliese)


“History.” (2021). The Soup Kitchen,

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