Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tea Room Recipe #8 - Victorian Sampler (Eureka Springs, Ark.)

Decades ago I visited the lovely town of Eureka Springs, Ark., but unfortunately I wasn't yet into tea. I was into antiques and travel, so of course a love for tea was just a matter of time. If I'd discovered that love of teatime earlier I could have enjoyed visiting quite a few tea rooms, like the Spears family's Victorian Sampler Tea Room that operated in Eureka Springs back then. Copies of their cookbook still pop up online pretty frequently, and this Carrot Soup caught my eye since it was labeled "Most requested soup recipe in Tea Room."

Ruth Spears wrote in the intro to this 1986 cookbook, "Jim and I purchased the Tea Room in late 1984. The home at 44 Prospect Street was built shortly after Eureka Springs' 1879 founding for one of the town's prominent physicians, Dr. C.F. Ellis." She and her husband ran the tea room with their daughter Lori, and this "book of favorites" includes recipes from family, friends and customers.

Carrot Soup

3 tablespoons butter, divided use
3/4 cup onion, chopped
3 cups carrots, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons plain uncooked rice
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook for several minutes, until soft but not brown. Add carrots, chicken stock, tomato paste and rice. Simmer for 30 minutes. Puree the soup* until smooth, then season and stir in cream and remaining tablespoon of butter. Garnish with carrot curls. (Carrot curls can be made by shaving off thin strips of carrot with a vegetable peeler and forming them into rosettes.) Serves 6.

*The book suggests you puree in a blender or food mill. Since I don't have either of those, I used my food processor, which was a little messy but I loved the result! At first, I was disappointed there were teeny-tiny specks of carrot instead of it being completely liquified. But once I took a bite, I liked it that way—and so did my husband! We both agreed this doesn't taste overly carrot-y, and that it perhaps deserves a name more exotic than simply Carrot Soup. He thinks it would be interesting to serve this to guests and have them guess what it is. Served in teacups, this makes a fun presentation for the tea table—and just imagine the possibilities if you serve this in the fall!


  1. Oh, what a shame you missed the opportunity to go to that tea room.

    I think this recipe sounds intriguing; I have never had carrot soup before, never imagined it tasting good - so I will definately try it.

    It's perfect for EASTER and spring teas for sure! And we all need better eye health don't we staring at our monitors hours on end.

    Thank you, Angela.

    Have a wonderful weekend, my friend.


  2. I like carrot soup and serving soup in teacups is a dainty presentation. You just don't get much!
    I hope you'll visit my giveaway post and find the book one you don't have.

  3. It looks yummy, Angela. I've never been to a tea room in Arkansas. Your cookbook from one of the tea rooms there sounds like a treasure!

  4. The Victorian Sampler was one of the first tea rooms I remember going to--and I also have a copy of that cookbook. It was such a beautiful place and I have fond memories of it. I need to dig out the cookbook and try a few of the recipes again. I even have a cross-stitch kit with the original tea room on it--something else I need to dig out!

    I have had carrot soup, but not that particular recipe. There is a place in Springfield, Missouri called "Tea Bar & Bites" that makes a carrot-ginger soup that is really good. The food is wonderful there, and someplace you should visit if in the area!

  5. Gorgeous photo, Angela - I am ready to try this recipe! I love soups, especially at this time of year. Have a great weekend, Joanie

  6. It does look good. Love the rosettes of carrots in your photo. Interesting recipe for sure.

  7. This looks great and your presentation is very pretty.

  8. This is another cookbook that can be found on my shelves! I made the 3 C's bread (carrot, coconut, and cherries)... and would recommend it.

  9. I just stumbled onto this blogger site since we are planning a trip this Fall to go back to Eureka Spgs. I was checking on line to see if the Victorian Tea Room was still operating. Over 20 yrs. ago I had their cold strawberry soup and quiche there...So DELICIOUS!! I ALSO BOUGHT their Victorian Sampler Cookbook and have it in my collection. THANK YOU for the special memory of this outstanding and memorable Tea Room!!!!!!!!

  10. Hi there! I am a fellow tea aficionado who has been collecting tea from around the world since I was a little girl.

    My husband is from the Northwest Arkansas area and we will be there this holiday season visiting his daughters.

    I read that this tea room has closed, but was wondering if you know of any others in the Northwest Arkansas area?

    Many thanks, and I look forward to reading more of your blog!

  11. Great Recipe.I like very much .And thanks for share with us
    Eureka Springs, Arka

  12. Ruth Spears was my Dad's cousin. I've never been to the Victorian Sampler, but my parents were there and told wonderful stories about their experience. If anyone has an extra cookbook, I would love to purchase one. My Mom has that book and has made some wonderful things from it...especially the Coconut Cake.

  13. The Victorian Sampler was pure magic! I remember a brisk fall day in 1987 when my parents and I were visiting Eureka a week from NC. The leaves were changing, town was full and the tea room was popping with business... the potato soup on that day was purely heaven and the lace shop upstairs was wonderful. It inspired me so much that years later I opened a tea room in PA. Eureka and the Victorian Sampler are wonderful memories.


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