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If you’ve ever been to the season opener celebrations held by the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum (CFFCM), you’ll know that one of the main attractions is the delectable soup (three different kinds of soup, actually) that Agnes Van Put serves up every year to warm the crowds of eager anglers at the frequently chilly “First Cast” opening ceremony.
But Agnes is much more than a good cook. She has been a fixture in the Catskill fly-fishing world for decades. Her son Ed was inducted into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame in 2008 for his role in helping to preserve and enhance the Catskill fisheries as well as his important contributions to fly-fishing literature: “Trout Fishing in the Catskills” and “The Beaverkill.” Agnes will be celebrating her 100th birthday this year, and you can celebrate along with her at CFFCM’s Summerfest and Angler’s Market, which will be held on August 6 and 7.
In the meantime, there’s lots of fun to be had at CFFCM’s 35th annual Season Opener celebration, to be held on Saturday, April 2 starting at 9 a.m. To give you a preview, we give you the recipe for one of Agnes’s soups, which she has very kindly given us permission to print.
Plain lentil or pea soup
1 lb. split peas or lentils
8 cups water
Ham hocks or ham bone
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped onions
1 bay leaf
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Wash and sort peas. Put all ingredients in pot and cook until peas are tender. You may put it in the blender to puree if you like. Add some cream or serve with sour cream.
If you want the other two recipes, you can find them in the “Catskill Fly Fishing Center Cookbook,” available in the gift store of the museum. But if you want the bona fide Agnes Van Put versions, you will have to actually show up on April 2. That’s because, as she told us, there is one key ingredient missing from the printed recipes. “What’s that?” we asked.
The response came with an engaging twinkle:
“Love,” she said.
[CFFCM is located at 1031 Old Route 17, between Livingston Manor and Roscoe. (There is signage directing you to the turnoffs on Route 17.) Season Opener activities will take place with a ceremonial first cast on Saturday April 2 at 9 a.m. on the Willowemoc River at the center’s entrance, featuring actor Olec Krupa and New York State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther. For a full schedule of the day’s events, visit www.catskillflyfishing.org.]