The stations of the London underground (‘the Tube’) became the night-time refuge from nocturnal bombing raids for thousands of city-dwellers during World War II. I had no idea of the sheer scale of this nocturnal migration and nesting until I read a short article on ‘Food for Tube Stations’ in The Times of December 11, 1940.
Food for Tube Stations.
“London Transport, as agent for the Ministry of Food, has completed the institution of refreshment services at the 80 tube stations where more than 100,000 people take shelter nightly from air raids.
This work has been competed in four weeks. It included:- Arranging six railway depots for the receipt and dispatch of food; fitting six refreshment trains, each equipped with 50 food containers; installing 134 canteen points on the platforms; fitting 600 electric boilers and ovens and half a mile of water mains; engaging, organizing, and training a new staff of 1,000 employees.
Besides tea and cocoa, hot soup is now served. Hot pies and sausages are served at some stations and soon will be available at all. The consumption of tea and cocoa now amounts to 12,500 gallons a night, and the food distributed each night weights seven tons.
There are now 30 stations at which regular shelteres have tickets for reserved, numbered places. Tickets have been issued to 35,000 shelterers, and the system will be extended to all stations by Christmas. The system has been a complete success. Queues are abolished, and shelterers take greater interest in their sleeping quarterers. Some bring small brushes to dust the space that they are to occupy, and they appear to bring a better type of bedding.”
Our recipe for the day is for ‘larder soup’, from a short piece on wartime canteen food in The Times of January 17, 1940.
Most London people have not been brought up to eat enough soups. This is a pity, because they are healthy and economical. Larder soup is particularly to be recommended. Any remains of cottage pie or stews, vegetables, &c, moistened with enough stock, cooked till blended, sieved and seasoned. A small tin of tomato soup stirred in gives a change of flavour.
The outside leaves of Brussels sprouts are blanched, cooked, then sieved. The purée is reheated in melted margarine with half milk and half liquor vegetables were cooked in, then simmered a while, well seasoned. If possible finish with small tin of milk.
In the canteen in which the writer works, soups have become a popular standby, and they seem to cost very little except heat and labour. There are all the pulses to choose from, and all vegetable waters should be used. In England we throw all the vitamin salts down the sink.
Many more recipes for soups could be given, but the writer would like to beg any women who are feeding large numbers of children or adults in these difficult times to use their ingenuity and learn to prepare soups well. They will find themselves amply repaid, and the children will thrive.
Quotation for the Day.
I think that women just have a primeval instinct to make soup, which they will try to foist on anybody who looks like a likely candidate.