A Taste of History: McClure Bean Soup

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MCCLURE -- It's a time-honored tradition that's been cooked up for centuries: McClure bean soup.

"It`s one of a kind, there`s nothing else like it," said Shawn Tyson of Beaver Springs.

Chief Cook Cindy Tyson says it's a dish that takes a lot of time and effort.

"You take care of making sure the product is in on time so that it takes about two and half hours to get the bean soup done and the fire`s hot enough so the water`s boiling when you put the beans in and it starts to cook up," said Tyson.

Nearly 60 kettles of soup are stirred each year, making between 1,800 and 2,100 gallons of the historic dish made up of beans, hamburger, and suet.

The recipe has been passed down through generations.

"I started back in 1996. My grandmother was the one that actually was the head cook at the time and I`ve just been working here ever since," said Tyson.

Over the centuries, the recipe for this bean soup hasn`t changed one bit, and that's part of what keeps people coming back to taste it from all across the U.S.

"Exactly the same," said Stephen Stricker of South Carolina. "Needs a little bit of salt, a little bit of pepper, bring it up to speed.  But yes, it`s very good though."

The Stricker family reunited at this year's bean soup festival, bringing together generations and family members from as far away as Texas.

"My grandparents grew up in this area, and they were coming and I just thought this was a great opportunity to get back.  I haven`t been back since I was a kid," said Jessica Stricker of Texas.

For others, it reminds them of the history of this Snyder County community as they enjoy a hot meal.

"You can imagine what the soldiers then, Civil War, were going through and the hard times that they had and even eating bean soup, making bean soup for their meals," said Robert Hyle of Lewisburg.

But one thing's for sure, if you drive through McClure this week, there's just one dish you need to try.

"Have some soup when you come, because that`s just the way it is," said Marilyn Hyle of Lewisburg.