This photo is property of Tea With I was so hungry by the time I finished my soup, I ate it and forgot the final picture!

My shoes are soaked. My jacket is dripping. It’s officially the beginning of our long trudge towards winter and this cold rain is the first sign of it.

Of course, my shoes are in their present state because I insisted on walking to my downtown grocery store to pick up the ingredients I needed to recreate this delicious soup, straight from the L.S. Ayres Tea Room Recipes and Recollections. If you’re a longtime resident of Indianapolis, you know all about the Tea Room, a hotspot for lingering over lunch and trading gossip, in between a little shopping. A place to see and be seen. The Tea Room closed in 1990, but was so missed the Indiana State Museum staged an almost pitch-perfect recreation within their building. You can’t shop anymore — well, besides the gift shop, of course — but time at the tea room is still a sweet way to spend a day.

We’ve talked at length about the impact of L.S. Ayres on Indianapolis – particularly for Indy women. Read up in the archives and then recreate this soup, ideally on one of these chilly fall days that will start happening with frequency.


1 1/2 stick butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup warm milk
1 cup warm cream
1 pt hot chicken stock + 1 qt hot chicken stock
1 1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken
salt + pepper to taste

Combine butter and flour in a heavy-bottomed pot over low heat, blending well. Add warm milk, pint of hot chicken stock and warm cream. After cooking well, add remaining ingredients.

Cooking time: 30 minutes

The beginnings of a roux

Historical Variation: 

This isn’t the first time I’ve made this sumptuous soup, and I think the same thing every time: where’s the spice? Besides the salt and pepper, there’s not much complexity — just rich, rich, rich textures. So I made sure to remedy that this time by adding paprika, cumin, and a bit of finely chopped onion that I sautéed beforehand. I was pleased with the outcome, and reminded once again of what a simple, almost foolproof recipe this is.

Field Trip: 

Visit the recreated L.S. Ayres Tea Room at the Indiana State Museum, which is also available for special events and programs. You can sip on tea of your choosing, choose from a variety of sweet treats, and yes, nosh on the chicken velvet soup. High tea is served on Sundays. Make a day of it — and don’t forget your vintage Ayres fashion.