I learned this recipe for vegetable soup from my Georgia grandmother. She made it with whatever meat she had on hand, often pot roast. My mother rarely made pot roast, so she cooked up ground beef. I use whatever poultry I have on hand, but you could easily make this a tasty, healthy vegan soup that meets all your nutritional needs in one bowl by leaving the meat or poultry out. This soup fits the old Southern “meat and three” (or meatless and three!) meal of beans, grains, and nutritious vegetables. It is a bowl full of warm flavors. You’ll want to make a big pot of it, because the flavors will continue to meld into something even more wonderful after the first day. And if you think you’ve made too much, don’t fret! This soup freezes well too.
All measurements are approximate. As I’ve said before, use what you have! By the way, I used frozen garden okra and beans and home-canned tomatoes. The home-grown frozen and canned ingredients make this recipe even more frugal.
Makes at least 5-7 cups
- one large yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup okra, cut into thin slices across the grain and then chopped
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 1 cup beans (baby limas or “green” (wax, pole, bush) beans–if using “green” beans, cut into short pieces)
- optional: 1/2 cup to 1 cup leftover turkey, chicken, or pot roast or browned ground meat
- 1 pint to 1 quart tomatoes and tomato juice (start with less, add as you need or want)
- 1/2 cup-1 cup corn, off the cob
- salt and pepper to taste
Begin by dicing the onion and sauteing it in a heavy-bottomed pot. While it sautes, prepare the okra. Are you turning up your nose at the okra? Trust me on this one. Okra, it is true, can be slimy and disgusting if improperly prepared, but we’re using it to thicken the soup. It’ll add a mild flavor similar to a bell pepper, and if you don’t tell anyone there’s okra in it, they’ll never know. Once the onion gets a little color, add the okra. Turn the heat down to almost nothing, and put a lid on the pot. Set the timer for an hour. Stir occasionally, adding a small amount of water or broth as needed to cook the onions and okra into a soft mass.
Meanwhile, prep the rest of the vegetables. After an hour, add the carrots and celery and a bit more water or broth to cover and cook on low heat about 10-15 minutes. Now add the beans, the meat or poultry (if you are using any) and about half of the tomatoes and tomato juice. Add more tomato juice and tomatoes if you’d like extra tomato flavor and/or juice. Simmer for twenty minutes to half an hour or even an hour, adding more tomato juice as the liquid cooks down. Add the corn, heat thoroughly, and serve. You’ve got a delicious, rich, virtually fat-free meal, all in a big bowl.
We like this soup with traditional cornbread and bread-and-butter pickles (sweet and sour pickles with onion and mustard). If you’re feeling decadent, a good sharp cheddar alongside tastes good but by no means is necessary.
Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) Directions
To make this recipe work in the slow cooker, I recommend pre-sauteing the onion. I also recommend pre-cooking the okra. You can put everything in at once, but you’ll risk folks recognizing the okra if you don’t pre-cook the okra. Of course, if your family likes okra, it’s no big deal! Just toss everything in, turn the cooker to low, and walk away for the day.
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