Go directly to recipe
I may have mentioned that, while my mother was a good cook, she was not the least bit creative or adventurous.
For Sunday Dinner we either had chicken or beef roast, with the occasional pork roast thrown in, just to be different. Each was fixed in it's own unique, delicious, but never changing way. Ham and Turkey were the holiday foods. Week nights were pork chops (2 ways), meat loaf (a choice of tomato soup or cream of mushroom on top), sausages (maybe with sauerkraut?), hot dishes (3, maybe 4 different ones), and a few seasonal items: hamburgers and sweet corn in summer; soup in winter.
She had a few cook books and a box of recipes that she had collected but these were mainly for desserts and baked goods. One needed recipes for baking. One did not need recipes for cooking.
My brother brought home a brace of squirrels once. She stared at them for a few minutes then decided to 'fix them like chicken'. They were, of course, wonderful: they tasted just like chicken!
When she stated that she was making soup no one asked what kind. We all knew: it was soup!
She occasionally made bean soup, split pea soup and chili (hers was a soup, sorry Texans). She even made potato soup once. But these were all given their full names. They were special, proper soups; requiring planning and a trip to the grocery store. Our regular old generic soup didn't.
Since soup is the theme of Heart of the Matter this month, hosted by Joanna of Joanna's Food and it's been perfect soup weather here in the Vendee, I thought it was time to immortalize my family soup.
I even named it.
Beef Vegetable Soup.
Pretty original, huh?
I toyed with the idea of calling it Root Vegetable Soup with the idea of it being a more trendy moniker and all… But, it's winter, what other vegetables could be in it?
My first husband's mother made vegetable soup with a bag of frozen vegetables. I was so appalled I've never really gotten over it!
My conditioning as to the proper vegetables for a hearty soup was/is so complete that I still have a hard time with corn or green beans or fresh peas in soup.
They're not winter vegetables. Soup is made in the winter. Ergo they do not/can not belong in soup.
Of course one needs some decent stock to make a decent soup. And soup is supposed to be economical so I picked up a package of beef ribs on special. I had over 6 pounds (3 kilos) of ribs which is too much meat for the soup but I'll find another use for it. I did get great stock.
In order to get nice brown stock you need to brown the meat first.
After browning on all sides, which took about 20 minutes, I added 2 litres of water, an onion, all of the tops from a bunch of celery, a few carrots, some bay leaves and a bouquet garni. It simmered away, perfuming the house for about 6 hours in all.
Then I refrigerated it overnight. The next day I removed a thick layer of fat, and strained it into a clean pot. Time to make the soup:
Vegetable Beef Soup Beef Vegetable Soup
For 4 litres (quarts) of soup:
2 litres beef stock
4 – 5 carrots
4 – 5 stalks celery
1 medium rutabaga
1/2 of a large head of cabbage
1 cup of small whole wheat pasta (my mother used egg noodles)
2 cups of shredded beef, trimmed, from the beef used to make stock
Bring the stock to a good boil over medium high heat. Chop/slice all of the vegetables, peeling where appropriate. Add to the soup as you finish with each one. When all of the vegetables are in bring it back to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add the pasta and beef and simmer 15 minutes longer.
Note: The rutabaga is a key ingredient. Without it the soup doesn't have nearly as much flavor and the sweet undertones are missing.
Let's see: no fat to speak of, no cheese, no cream, no salt, (you can salt it if you like)…This has got to be heart-healthy, right? It's also heart and tummy warming, bursting with flavor and just a bit on the sweet side form all those yummy root vegetables. Check out Joanna's Food after Jan. 24th for all of this months soups!
I just realized, other than for the stock, I didn't add any herbs… But, then, my mother wouldn't have… and it is winter…