friendly day soup recipe

“Let’s go and see everybody,” said Pooh. “Because when you have been walking in the wind for miles, and you suddenly go into somebody’s house, and he says, ‘Hallo, Pooh, you’re just in time for a little smackerel of something,’ and you are, then it’s what I call a Friendly Day.” ~ A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Hallo, my windblown, winter-weary but eternally good-looking friends! Are you out of hibernation yet?

Just in case you’re in dire need of a little smackerel of something, I’ve cooked up a special batch of Pea-Bean Alphabet Soup, with a recipe from the new and revised Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook (Dutton, 2010).

Is anyone familiar with older editions of this cookbook — one with recipes by Katie Stewart (Methuen, 1971) and the other with Virginia Ellison’s recipes (Dutton, 1969)? I have not seen Ellison’s older edition, and wondered whether the Pea-Bean Alphabet Soup recipe was in it, or if it was newly added this time around. Years ago, I purchased the Katie Stewart edition in London; looks like different culinary writers were used for the British and American versions. Cool, but a little confusing, since both books have the exact same cover.

In any case, the new Pooh Cookbook, just released in October 2010, is quite lovely, as it contains full color illustrations from Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, as well as the eight original pen-and-ink drawings by Ernest H. Shephard commissioned by Dutton in 1966. Like its predecessors, the new cookbook is sprinkled throughout with excerpts from both Pooh books and features approximately 60 tasty recipes, all guaranteed to feel yummy in your tummy: Breakfasts, Smackerels, Elevenses & Teas, Provisions for Picnics & Expotitions, Lunches & Suppers, Desserts & Party Recipes, Winter Delights and Honey Sauces.

My Katie Stewart cookbook contains things like Chocolate Rock Cakes, Honey and Raisin Scones, Cottleston Pie, Bread and Butter Pudding and Watercress Sandwiches, etc., but it doesn’t have any soups! So I was tickled pink to find three soups in Ellison’s new book: Tomato, Corn and Shrimp Chowder, and the aforementioned Alphabet Soup, which got my full attention right away. ☺

I cheated a little on the recipe, making it in the crock pot rather than simmering it on the stove, so my finished product probably wasn’t as thick as the stove version. But that’s the beauty of soup — it’s hard to ruin, allows for all kinds of experimentation and variation in ingredients, and always hits the spot. The resident bears had fun adding the alphabet pasta and spelling out the characters’ names. Hope you’ll try this hearty soup sometime; while it’s cooking you can read a Pooh story, and once you’ve had some soup, you’ll be all set, tiddely-pom and tra-la-la, rum-tum-tiddle-um-tum.

(makes approx. 10 servings)

3 T each of dried beans, such as red, Great Northern, garbanzos, pintos, or black for a total of 15 tablespoons
5 T lentils
4 T split peas, green or yellow
2 quarts water
2 beef bones, marrow or shank, with a little meat on them
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cups canned tomatoes
6 sprigs parsley, chopped fine, leaves and stems
1/2 cup alphabet noodles
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cover the beans and peas in water and soak for 3 hours or longer.

2. Drain and rinse with fresh water.

3. In a pot with a tight-fitting lid, cover the beans, peas, and lentils with 2 quarts of water and add the meat bones, onion, and parsley. Bring to a boil.

4. Add the tomatoes, and simmer until the peas disappear and the beans are tender, about 2 hours.

5. During the last 10 minutes of simmering, add the alphabet noodles.

6. Put in plenty of P’s for Pooh and Piglet and the initials or letters of your own name.

7. Remove the bones and any meat that has cooked free of them. Dice the meat and return to the soup.


“Do you know what this is?”
“No,” said Piglet.
“It’s an A.”
“Oh,” said Piglet.
“Not O, A,” said Eeyore severely. “Can’t you hear, or do you think you have more education than Christopher Robin?” ~ The House at Pooh Corner

Oh! My favorite recipe in the whole book is, “A Recipe for Getting Thin.” You’ll have to get the book to see for yourself, says the newly thin soup maker. ☺

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

a little smackerel from jeannine atkins

“By-and-by Pooh and Piglet went on again. Christopher Robin was at home by this time, because it was the afternoon, and he was so glad to see them that they stayed there until very nearly tea-time, and then they had a Very Nearly tea, which is one you forget about afterwards, and hurried on to Pooh Corner, so as to see Eeyore before it was too late to have a Proper Tea with Owl.”  ~ from THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER, by A.A. Milne (E.P. Dutton & Co., 1928). 

The other morning I was feeling a little odd. 

It was almost eleven and I needed a little smackerel of something.

Just in time, I received this lovely email from author Jeannine Atkins:

Jama, this is my favorite scone recipe, which I doubled and brought into my children’s literature class after reading WINNIE-THE-POOH and feeling like we needed ‘a little something.’ One student said he was happy to ‘walk into class and see two big cookie-like things on the table.’



No tea party would be complete without them. Whether you pronounce it skon to rhyme with John (as in most of the UK), or skoan to rhyme with Joan (as in the U.S.), there’s no denying their appeal. Split them in half while they’re still warm, lay on the butter, strawberry jam, and clotted cream (if you’re lucky), and you’ve got home and heaven in one little cake!

Scones, originally from Scotland, are perfect anytime — breakfast, elevenses, very nearly tea, or proper afternoon tea. Make them plain with cream, milk or buttermilk, add fruit or even chocolate chips — then roll and cut them into little rounds, or pat the dough onto a sheet, and cut in wedges. They can be baked or dropped on a griddle. Your tum-iddle-um will thank you.

When Jeannine’s students walked into the classroom, they probably felt like this:

When you’ve been walking in the wind for miles, and you suddenly go into somebody’s house, and he says, ‘Hello, Pooh, you’re just in time for a little smackerel of something,’ and you are, then it’s what I call a Friendly Day.

Very friendly Jeannine has written quite a few fabulous books herself, the latest of which is Anne Hutchinson’s Way (FSG, 2007). In this historical fiction picture book (illustrated by Michael Dooling), Anne leaves England with her husband and ten children for the Massachusetts Colony, seeking religious freedom.

When she disagrees with the minister’s ways, Anne holds meetings in her own home to preach the gospel herself. Told from her daughter Susanna’s point of view, this inspiring story of a strong woman who believed in the freedom of speech, was recently named a 2008 Amelia Bloomer Project Recommended Title, one of 32 books which encourages girls to be “smart, brave, and proud.”

Jeannine has written several other wonderful books about strong girls and women, such as Aani and the Tree Huggers (Lee and Low, 2000), Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Stories of Six Pioneering Naturalists (Dawn, 2000), and How High Can We Climb: The Story of Women Explorers (FSG, 2005). All reflect Jeannine’s love of history, research, and personal interest in feminism.

So, next time you crave a little something, mix up a batch of Jeannine’s scones, pour yourself a cup of your favorite tea (maybe Republic of Tea’s  All Day Breakfast or Assam Breakfast ), and curl up with one of her books. It’ll get you humming, and may even inspire you to greater things. What could be friendlier?

from Jeannine Atkins

1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cut in bits
1-1/4 cups mixed dried fruit: chopped apricots, dried cranberries or cherries, and raisins
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease baking sheet. Combine dry ingredients, then cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles cornmeal. Mix in fruit. Combine cream and egg, then pour into the flour mixture. Stir with a fork just until the dough forms a ball. Pat this into a round and squash about 8 inches wide. Cut about halfway through into twelve wedges and put it on the baking sheet. Bake about twenty minutes until golden.

Visit Jeannine’s Website and Blog for more about her books!