Steerage Soup: Third-Class Dining on the Titanic

The Titanic set sail from Southampton on April 10, 1912 with a treasure trove of culinary delights.

The ship carried in its hold a few hundred tons of foodstuffs for the voyage, including 2,500 pounds of sausage, 36,000 oranges, 1,500 gallons of milk, 40,000 eggs, 1,000 bottles of wine and 800 bundles of fresh asparagus.
But while the Astors and Guggenheims sipped champagne and crunched asparagus in first class, the passengers in steerage dined on more austere fare. A typical dinner menu in steerage included rice soup, corned beef and biscuits. Fresh fruit served as a dessert.

Coming from countries like Norway and Ireland, where fresh fruit and vegetables were scare, the Titanic’s third-class passengers found their menu almost luxurious. In fact the Titanic’s kitchen staff did do their best to provide meals that the passengers would find comforting and nutritious.

Here’s a recipe for rice soup, much like the one enjoyed by the Titanic’s third-class passengers. It’s a simple dish, but tasty:

Cream of Rice Soup

2 qts chicken stock
1 cup rice
1 qt cream or milk
1 small onion
1 stalk of celery
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh herbs (optional)

Lightly brown the onions and celery. Add chicken stock.

Wash rice carefully, and add to chicken stock, onion and celery. Simmer slowly for two hours.

Put soup through a sieve; add seasoning and the milk or cream. Bring the soup to a simmer again, and simmer for five minutes. Add fresh herbs to taste.

Serve this soup with biscuits, like the Titanic’s kitchen staff did, or a green salad.


Baumgarthuber, Christine. Fermented Foods: The History and Science of a Microbiological Wonder. Reaktion Books, 2021.

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2 thoughts on “Steerage Soup: Third-Class Dining on the Titanic

  1. It's told that as the ship was sinking, third class passengers were deliberately blocked from getting to the lifeboats, so to make sure the first class passengers had first dibs…..


  2. If this is true one should not be too surprised. In those days the lower a person's class the lower their “human-ness”. Upper and middle class European people considered the lower, peasant classes to be no more than animals.
    It would be natural for Officers to take better class people into lifeboats first. 'Upper classes, women and children first' would have been a standard rule.


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