Monday, January 21, 2019

SEASONED SOUTHERN STYLE: Mom's Basic and Economical Soup Recipe From Left-Overs

Growing up a farmer's daughter, I learned to appreciate the time, effort and money it took to keep a farm. . .and a household. . .running. There were some lean years along the way. We often had to cut corners and make-do. . .

I often thought that was the case when Mom saved every little scrap of meat, every teaspoon of gravy, and all the left-over vegetables. . .She froze them in big gallon milk cartons to make soup. . .Now that I am older and find myself doing the same, I believe she would have saved left-overs if we had been millionaires. . .for as the winter grows cold and the north winds blow, I find myself digging into the freezer, grabbing those containers I marked  "for soup.” I have tried many other recipes. . .from Pinterest. . .from cookbooks. . .clipped from magazines. . .but my favorite is Mom's method, from which I am able to make as many different soups as there are ingredients. . .

She started with making a stock using a basic mix of meat, onion and water, which were prepared pretty much the same for any soup. . . If no meat was available, she pulled out the homemade frozen stock, prepared at an earlier date from the bones of roasts or chops, ham bones, or carcasses of roast poultry. Then she added the saved conglomeration of left-overs from the freezer and refrigerator, adding rice or pasta or potatoes and herbs for flavor. In fact, practically any left-overs might find a place in the family soup pot. No necessity for running to the grocery store for expensive vegetables or broth. No spending hours in the kitchen slicing and dicing. . .The challenge was to make-do with what she had on hand. . .but with delicious results. . .The whole house filled with the smell of what I call 'comfort food'. . . and a well-balanced meal in a bowl. . .

Ham Bone Soup, Tomato Soup (recipe in a later post), Turkey and Smoked Sausage Soup

MOM'S BEEF OR PORK SOUP BASE: Your choice of meat, plus chopped onion, in a big soup pot. Cover well with water and boil until the meat is tender. Remove meat and cut into bite size pieces. Skim fat off the top of the broth. Return meat. Salt and pepper. Garlic powder. 1-3 tablespoons real butter. You should have at least 4-6 cups of broth. 
(I will share her basic soup from poultry in a later post.)

That's it. . .Simple, huh? . .Now the fun part. . .Adding in the left-overs. . .bits and pieces. . to make the soup suit your taste. . .Here are some examples of the soups I have recently prepared from Mom's Basic recipe. . .

Broth made as above with a meaty ham bone.
I then removed the bone and skimmed off the fat. Any meat left on the bone was thrown back into the pot. To this base, I added 1 can diced organic tomatoes with its liquid and left-over freezer vegetables of carrots, celery, corn, okra, green beans, white beans, one whole hot pepper, green pepper, along with a piece of diced smoked sausage I also found in the freezer. Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste. I also added basil and a little thyme. (Use your favorite combination of herbs or none at all. It will still be delicious.) The soup was slowly simmered until the flavors combined well. The last 10 minutes, I also added diced white sweet potatoes. Cost: 85 cents

Broth made as above from left-over turkey and a package of smoked sausage cut into bite-size pieces.
Once broth was done, I added: 1/2 can of tomatoes and hot peppers, ½ can organic pureed tomatoes, one can black beans rinsed and drained, freezer left-overs including small amounts of green beans with the liquid, non-gluten spaghetti, brown rice, baked beans, carrots, cabbage, onion, green pepper, and celery. I added more salt, pepper, and some garlic powder to taste, as well as a little basil and a pinch of red pepper. Then let it simmer until flavors came together. Non-gluten macaroni was added the last 10 minutes. Cost $3.25

At least 6 cups of broth made as above from 1 pound grass-fed hamburger meat.
Then I added 3 cups diced canned tomatoes and left-overs of carrots, green pepper, cabbage, white beans, green beans and mushrooms. (White potatoes are good in it, too, but I'm watching my carbs.) Also garlic salt, pepper/red pepper to taste.  Simmer.  Cost: $5.58

These recipes are merely examples of three different soups from Mom's basic broth recipe. No two soups are ever exactly the same. . .but all will be delicious if you will start with her simple base. . .

Mom couldn't make a small pot of soup. The pot often almost spilled over. Another of Mom's tricks was to preserve extra soup, but not freeze it. Of course, I do it, too. The soup is sealed in quart jars as in canning vegetables but it isn't processed in a water bath or pressure canner. . .It stays fresh in the refrigerator for 3-5 months. Once opened, the soup is just as delicious as the day you make it. . .not mushy like frozen soups tend to be.

Regardless of where we live, whether farm or city, there should be no argument that food prices are soaring. This is where the family soup pot can help any budget with numbers of servings per pot.  Besides being thrifty, homemade soup is also very healthy. Paired with garlic bread, corn bread or crackers and a tossed salad, you just can't get down-home cooking better than that. 

From My 'Soup Kitchen'

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