Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tastes Like Your Grandma's Vegetable Soup

I woke up this morning craving the vegetable soup my mom made when I was a little girl. It was the 1950's. We lived frugally, but I don't think we ever considered ourselves poor.We had a house and clothes to wear. Daddy had a car, and we had nourishing food every evening. Our meals weren't gourmet--they were frugal, but they were homemade and made with love. Back then there was no "Hamburger Helper", we hadn't heard of McDonalds, and frozen dinners were still relatively new--and a luxury we really couldn't afford.

As I reflect on those days, I'm amazed at how much Mom was able to do with so little. She never measured her ingredients, so there's no written recipe. But in the afternoon, when I got home from school, I usually sat at the kitchen table working on homework while the evening meal was prepared. I was an inquisitive little kid, and liked to observe what was going on in the kitchen. Here's what I think she did:

Mom's Vegetable Soup
1 pound beef for stew
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry navy or white beans
1/2 cup dry red kidney (brown) beans
6 cups water
1/2 cup dry lentils
1 medium onion (about one cup), finely chopped
2 medium carrots (about one cup), thinly sliced
1 small stalk celery, finely chopped (no tops)
1 cup diced cabbage (optional)
3 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 medium potato, diced (about one cup)
salt and pepper to taste

  • In a large stock pot saute the beef in olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until browned on all sides. Remove from pot and set aside.
  • In the same pot add white and brown beans and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low. Return sauted beef to pot. Cover and simmer about 2 hours or until beans and beef are tender.
  • Add lentils, onions,  carrots, celery, cabbage, bouillon cubes, tomato sauce, and potatoes.
  • Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender
  • Add salt and pepper to taste

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