Bonne Soup (Oyster Vegetable Root)

This recipe took me a bit of research to figure out just what is a vegetable oyster.

Turns out it belongs to the dandelion family, is similar to a parsnip and has a slight oyster flavor. The more modern name for this plant is called, Salsify.

Bonne Soup - Oyster Vegetable Root

Bowl of soup

A popular vegetable soup in the 1800s.


  • 1 cupful beans
  • 1 quart good stock
  • 1 quart sweet milk
  • 6 roots vegetable oyster (Salsify)
  • 1 handful dry bread crumbs
  • 1 sprig summer savory
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Boil beans in water until done

Press through colander

Boil vegetable oyster in small pieces until perfectly cooked, in as little water as possible.

Add these, with savory, to beans, and let all boil a few minutes.

Add milk and pepper.

Let all come to a boil, salt to taste, and pour over crumbs in dish and serve.

Most excellent if properly made.

If stock is not rich, add a little butter.


Vegetable oyster (Salsify) is a root vegetable similar to a parsnip. It was a popular, easy to grow garden vegetable in the Victorian Period.

It was a very popular vegetable in the Victorian era (1837-1901) so makes sense it would be included in this cookbook. The Hudson Bay Company brought over many seeds from England and apparently it was a very common vegetable over there as well as easy to grow. The pictures I found of Salsify show it as a yellow blossomed flower but some of my reading states that the blossoms were pink or purple in color. There are two basic types of this plant so maybe that is the difference.

Apparently this Oyster Root (Salsify) is coming back in style (a bit) and can be found at local farmer’s markets. At this point I have not been able to find it locally, Chuck’s Grocery carries a root vegetable called Sunchoke and that sounds like a close relative. Maybe.

A few good articles I found about this mystery vegetable (to me at any rate) are shared here.

A skinnier relative of the parsnip, salsify is a delicious, creamy and versatile winter vegetable.

What the Heck Is Salsify and How Do You Cook It?  by Linsay Lowe at

And this one . . .

The best part is that salsify is much better for you than most starchy root vegetables. These simple roots contain lots of iron, vitamin C, thiamin, calcium and phosphorus, and provide a healthy dose of fiber. They also have as much potassium as a banana. All of this earns them “superfood” status.

What The Heck Is Salsify? by Amber Kanuckel at Farmers

And on with the recipe. If anyone makes this – please, please let me know. I am seriously tempted to try this myself once I track down where I can find it. Walmart carries it in a can. Nope, not doing that.

There are a number of places where you can buy seeds for Salsify – even on Amazon! Not a surprise I guess. I am an Amazon affiliate so you could buy it through my link if you wanted to be crazily supportive! 🙂 I am rather more tempted to go to this place in Missouri called Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds because it has more charm. And they even have Salsify recipes!

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