The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License,
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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Peter Max's Maui Onion Soup

Compiled by Vicki McClure Davidson


Frugal Celebrities' Recipes

Peter Max is an American artist best known through the world for his iconic, pop cultural posters in the 1960s. His famous 1968 LOVE poster was emblematic of late 1960s pop-culture iconography and prompted many artists of the Woodstock era to imitate his distinctive, psychedelic style. Through the years, his art has been used for many projects, including design of US postage stamps, the Grammy Awards, the Super Bowl, and others. Despite popular assumption, he did not participate in the animated film project Yellow Submarine, a 1968 animated film based on music by The Beatles. The artists used for the film were obviously influenced by his work.

In his later years, Peter became an environmentalist and animal advocate. In 2002, he was in the news when he offered to financially provide a life of green fields for Cinci Freedom, a cow that had escaped from an Ohio slaughterhouse. The cow had leapt over a 6-foot fence while the slaughterhouse workers were on break and eluded capture for eleven days. "This little girl's will—facing the end of her life, being so frightened, then taking the risk of all risks to live, to be free—touched me so deeply," Peter told the media. "It was so inspiring. I knew I had to try to preserve that wonderful spirit." He donated $180,000 worth of his art to benefit the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, to ensure the cow a long life of peace at a New York Farm Sanctuary.

In an interview, Peter said he is not much of a cook and usually prefers making and eating macrobiotic dishes. This soup recipe was given to him by a friend and is a personal favorite. The use of Maui onions is important, as he notes in the directions below the list of ingredients.

His recipe is meant to serve a larger-than-average dinner crowd, so if necessary, decrease the quantities by half.


Peter Max's Maui Onion Soup Recipe


The key to making Maui Onion Soup is the onion itself. Most people think regular onions are all right to use, but at the end of the three-hour cooking time, you get a very pungent, almost bitter, broth. Only Maui onions, or in a pinch, Walla Walla sweet onions or Vidalias from Georgia have the lightness and sweetness that hold up over the cooking time.

In a large stockpot or soup kettle, melt the butter over moderately high heat. Add the onions and ginger. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook until the onions are transparent, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Do not allow the onions to brown or the soup will be bitter. Add the chicken stock, wine, and thyme. Increase the heat to moderately high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook, slightly covered, for about 3 hours.

Working in several batches, purée the soup in a food processor or a food mill. Return the purée to the pot and add the half-and-half. Bring to a boil over moderate heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into warmed bowls and serve at once.

Serves 14 to 16.




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Leach, Robin, The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous Cookbook, Viking Studio Books, NY, 1992.
Wikipedia website (