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The Gainsboro History Project

Fred Brown

In 1922, while he was still in high school, Fred Brown started work at Hotel Roanoke in the kitchen and storeroom. After graduation, he worked his way up the ladder and served as boiler, fry and roast cook, and assistant chef. He worked for a short time at The Greenbrier in West Virginia and returned to Hotel Roanoke in 1937 as executive chef. Chef Brown retired in 1969.

Chef Brown was a creative cook and liked to try new recipes. In 1940, Hotel Manager Kenneth Hyde asked him to create a signature dish for Hotel Roanoke, something that would “put it on the map.” After several recipe attempts, Chef Brown created his famous Peanut Soup. It was an immediate success with patrons and became associated with the Hotel. The recipe was kept secret for a long time, but now Hotel Roanoke proudly shares the famous recipe.

Hotel Roanoke Peanut Soup

2 quarts chicken broth

1 pint peanut butter

1 small onion

½ cup ground peanuts

¼ pound butter

⅓ teaspoon celery salt

2 branches celery

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Melt butter in cooking vessel and add onion and celery. Sauté for five minutes (not brown). Add flour and mix well. Add hot chicken broth and cook for a half hour. Remove from the stove, strain, and add peanut butter, celery salt, salt, and lemon juice. Sprinkle ground peanuts on soup just before serving.

Source: Hotel Roanoke webpage

See Also


Hotel roanoke recipes | hotel roanoke. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2022, from

Piedmont, D. (1994). Peanut Soup and Spoonbread: An Informal History of Hotel Roanoke. The Virginia Tech Real Estate Foundation, Inc.

The Roanoke Times. (2016, February). Braving the Storms. History in Profile. Fred Brown. Discover History & Heritage Magazine.