Taste of KANSAS! | Hays House Restaurant

Spring 2016 

When first built in 1857, by Seth Hays (great-grandson of frontiersman Daniel Boone), the Hays House provided meals and goods to travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Today, the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi River continues to serve up delicious comfort cuisine to present day travelers and Kansas locals.

Hays House's history and legend is as abundant as the food. It's reported that Jesse James and George Armstrong Custer are just a couple of the restaurant's notable diners. Which is not hard to envision. In its 158-years Hays House Restaurant has been restored three times, each after suffering a fire. Only the charred beams in the Seth Room, purposely left exposed, share the restaurants story of rising from the ashes. Most recently the Hays House rebuilt the second-story porch, allowing outdoor dining with a picturesque view overlooking Council Grove's Main Street. 

We want to thank Chef Rick Paul for having KANSAS! in the kitchen and sharing these delectable dishes with us. 

Charlie's Mother's Soup

From this kitchen of Hays House in Council Grove. This recipe was created by the mother of former owner Charles Judd.


  • 8 cups Homemade Beef Broth (see recipe below)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 ¼ cups chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 1 cup cooked beef, cubed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add onions to broth and cook in large pot until the onion is tender. Add tomatoes and macaroni. Add beef when macaroni is halfway cooked (about 5 minutes). Boil until macaroni is done. Taste and season to your liking with salt and pepper.

Homemade Beef Broth 


  • 2 pounds beef cubes
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, split
  • 1 rib celery
  • 2 carrots, cut in chunks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • Beef bouillon; add if needs extra flavor

Brown beef cubes in butter and olive oil in large soup pot. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 1½ hours. Add beef bouillon for additional flavor. Strain. Chill. Remove layer of fat from top.

Cranberry - Strawberry Pie 

Inez Williams, a former baker at the restaurant, turned this classic holiday salad into the restaurant's premiere house pie in the 1970s. 


  • ½ pound whole cranberries, frozen
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ pound marshmallows, regular size
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 (3-ounce) box cherry gelatin
  • 1 cup sweetened frozen strawberries
  • cup finely chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped black walnuts
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust, frozen

In blender, grind frozen cranberries. Cover cranberries with sugar; let stand 2 hours. In top of double boiler, melt marshmallows with milk, stirring frequently. Remove from heat when marshmallows are melted. Stir in dry gelatin. Then stir in strawberries, cranberries, celery and walnuts. Let mixture set up in refrigerator until as firm as gelatin, usually overnight.

Whip cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff. In a separate bowl, beat gelatin mixture until base is smooth. Fold cream into gelatin mixture. Pile into frozen crust. Freeze several hours or overnight. Serve frozen (do not thaw).