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The story behind Cooke Tavern Soups

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Perhaps the best thing about a cold fall afternoon or a dreary winter day is breaking out the big pot warm and nice hearty soup. Food that was cooked and served in liquid seems to have been around as long as cooking, and Mary Ellen Williams a retired home economics teacher who loved to cook, she can totally understand why.  In 1995, she started her business. She decided to take their favorite soup recipes and make them quick and easy to prepare while also being delicious and healthy! Starting with all natural dried spices herbs and vegetables, they spent hours testing and sampling until the flavor, texture and taste were “just right”.

The first soup

The first soup Mary Ellen developed was our Candlelight Corn Chowder, which she and her husband Allan took to a local “Corn Festival” along with 4 other popular creations, Fireside Supper 15 Bean, Barn Raising Country Vegetable and Autumn Harvest Pumpkin Lentil. They sold out of all they stock the first day of the show!

Her mixes quickly developed a huge customer following that loved the soups for their easy, quick preparation and fresh homemade taste. The business quickly grew as they attended other craft shows in the area and soon the demand became too much for a retired couple to handle.

Modern homemade cooking

Cooke Tavern Soup mixes have been thrilling consumers with their healthy, nutritious and easy to prepare alternative to canned soups for over 20 years. The current owner Greg Williams, along with his wife, Mary Kay was recruited to help out and the business quickly became a family operation. In 2001, Greg & Mary Kay purchased the business and moved the operation to their current facility in Spring Mills, PA. Greg an engineer-turned-entrepreneur quit his full-time engineering job to run and grow the business. Although retired, for the second time, Mary Ellen is still in charge of creating and perfecting new recipes. “We add new flavors every year, last year it was our Farmer Al’s Tomato Basil Bisque named in honor of my dad Allan. Mary Ellen is currently working on perfecting a “French Onion” for the winter season “ said Williams.

Everybody loves Cooke Tavern Soup

Renowned Italian chef Giada De Laurentiis chose Cooke Tavern Soups Candlelight corn chowder and their Autumn Harvest Pumpkin Lentil as some of her favorite picks from over 400 vendors at the 2008 Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show held in Washington D.C. and featured them on the Today Show. While describing Cooke Tavern Soups, De Laurentiis said, “These soups are fantastic. Know what I love? You can add your own ingredients to it and you’ve made your own soup.”

These exemplary mixes do not contain any salt, preservatives, or MSG, offering consumers a healthy choice.  Designed for busy people who want to create and serve a great homemade soup without the fuss of starting from scratch, De Laurentiis said, “They (soup mixes) give you additional ideas of ingredients to add to make them special.”

 Now, we are cooking...

All of Cooke Tavern Soups mixes contain only the natural spices, in the exact quantities to make a fresh 2-quart pot of soup in very short time. Each soup can be prepared in 40 minutes or less, just enough time to set the table warm up some fresh bread and prepare a side salad. Open a package of your favorite dry soup mix and you’ll discover extra time and plenty of ideas for flavorful, super quick, healthy meals. 

Wellness magazine favorite: Barn Raising Country Vegetable

Barn Raising Country Vegetable Soup

This soup is so nutritious and tasty it may give you enough energy to raise a barn! This rich, colorful medley of freeze-dried vegetables includes carrots, green beans, corn and peas and some wonderful spices. Add some canned diced tomatoes and chopped cabbage for a meal that the entire family will enjoy. This soup can easily be made into a chicken or beef vegetable, or keep it vegetarian.

Makes 2 Quarts: 6-8 servings Cook Time: 30 minutes


2 (14.5 oz.) cans of vegetable, beef or chicken broth

2 cups water

2 (14.5 oz.) cans of diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups cabbage (shredded)

1/2 teaspoon Salt

To Prepare:

Add soup mix, broth, water, diced tomatoes, cabbage, and salt. Boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.

For Chicken Vegetable: Add 1/2 lb. raw cubed chicken.

Cooks in only 40 minutes. Barn Raising Country Vegetable soup pairs great with a crisp salad. Yummy!

Autumn Harvest Pumpkin Lentil

Chosen by Giada De Laurentiis as one of her favorites. This unique blend of red and yellow lentils, peas, brown and wild rice, along with our creative spice mix makes a grand first course for any Fall feast! Add carrots, red wine and 100% pumpkin puree for a one-of-a-kind gourmet soup. Serve in a hollowed out pumpkin shell to impress your guests with your culinary expertise.

Makes 3 Quarts: 10-12 servings Cook Time: 90 minutes


3 (14.5 oz.) cans chicken broth

2 carrots (peeled and sliced)

1 cup 100% pumpkin (not pie filling)

1/3 cup red wine (optional)

2 Tablespoon olive oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups water

To Prepare:

Rinse lentils and rice. Combine with seasoning packet, carrots, broth and water in large pot. Bring to boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Add 100% pumpkin, wine, olive oil, and salt. Simmer an additional 30 minutes.

Autumn Harvest Pumpkin Lentil Soup pairs well with fresh baked bread and a glass of wine. Serve garnished with parsley in a baked acorn squash half for even more flavor!

More about ...

Cooke Tavern Soups produces a line of pre-packaged gourmet soup mixes containing all- natural freeze and air-dried vegetables, herbs, spices. The mixes are free from salt, MSG, artificial flavoring, and preservatives. Many are gluten free. Each mix contains all the vegetables herbs and spices needed to create a 2-quart pot of homemade soup by simply adding a few simple grocery store additions. All can be prepared vegetarian with simple substitutions.

Cooke Tavern Soups are available in specialty food stores, farm markets and health food stores across the country. The also can be ordered directly from our website at www.cooketavernsoups.com

Rating: 13 votes Current score: 3

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