Saturday, December 18, 2010
Mom's Vegetable Soup
If your mom is a wonderful cook like mine is, there's probably a laundry list of things she makes better than anyone else. Things that you would LOVE to make just like she does but you can't get it quite right... This, my friends, is one of those dishes. Mom's vegetable soup is pretty different from most. For starters, everything is diced very finely. About the size of a pea up to a lima bean. So, you don't have a huge HUNK of carrot and a little pea in your spoon. You've got a whole orchestra of flavors playing all together in that spoon. It's also cooked until the flavors just melt together. That's the only way I can think of to describe it. I remember when I made minnestrone a couple of years ago and Connie tasted it when it just wasn't done. The vegetables had all cooked but the ingredients hadn't melted together if you will. He wasn't too fond of it. Then, when the soup had really cooked long enough, I gave him a bowl of it. He immediately tasted the difference. All I can say is if you cook the soup long enough, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
This soup is actually pretty darned forgiving. If you don't like corn, don't put it in. If you want to add green bell peppers, go ahead. The one ingredient I avoid is mushrooms. They just add a flavor I don't care for. And, I love mushrooms. Just not in this vegetable soup.
This was my family's traditional Christmas Eve soup when I was growing up. Now that I'm hosting my first family Christmas Eve, I've decided to make it again. Since it takes the better part of a day to cook and this is probably my only day at home today's the day.
We were supposed to sneak away to our favorite B and B for the weekend but I sound rather like a 1-900 call - as my friend Amy says. Everything to make the soup was packed in a big cooler in the middle of the kitchen. So, I was all ready to go this morning. A test bowl of the soup and a couple of mugs of medicinal tea and I should be on the mend quickly!
Mom's Vegetable Soup
for the broth:
2 beef soup bones
salt and pepper
1 large onion
4 ribs celery
4 large carrots
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 c red wine
1 T peppercorns
water to cover
for the soup:
2 lb pot roast or chuck roast or stew beef
2 russet potatoes
1 can corn
1 can green beans (fresh are great here too- whichever you use, be sure to dice them)
1 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 10 oz package frozen lima beans
1 16 oz package frozen peas
8 oz frozen okra
20 baby carrots
5 ribs celery
1 large onion
1 bag cole slaw mix
1/4 c pearled barley
1 4 oz can tomato paste
8 oz red wine
3 cups tomato sauce
freshly ground pepper
To make the broth, I use my crockpot. Now, you know you can open one of those big cans of beef broth. I just don't like all that sodium in my soup. First, you roast the soup bones. Dust them with some salt and pepper and pop them in the oven in a baking dish. Roast them for about 30 minutes at 400.
Dump the soup bones etc in your crockpot.
Set it on low and let 'er cook for 8 hours or so.
Depending on the amount of fat on the bones, you may want to cool the stock and skim the fat. Or, you can strain it and refrigerate it overnight to congeal the fat.
Prepare to chop :-) Once you've chopped everything, put all of your vegetables into a large stockpot.
Pour in the beef stock and the red wine, then add water to cover the veggies.
Now, you add the stew beef or chuck roast. You can dice it finely before adding it OR you can toss it in and go fishing for beef pieces that need to be torn up when you finish the soup... Finally, add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Now, be patient and let the soup cook. And cook. And cook.
This soup freezes beautifully. It makes about four to five quarts of soup once it's done cooking down.