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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.

Copyright Ozarkhomesteader 2010.  Short excerpts with full links to this site are welcome.  Contact me for permission to use photographs.

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Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Posting of short excerpts 
with a full link is welcome.

I’m pledged on this blog to post recipes that are mostly created using local, seasonal ingredients. One of our new favorites among winter soups is Zuppa, an Italian soup from Tuscany that uses lots of kale, leeks, and Italian sausage.  I served it last night to my father, who thought kale was just a funny garnish.  He loved this soup!  Zuppa is a great way to introduce non-kale eaters to kale.

Here’s what you’ll need for 3 good servings:

  • 1-2  leek bottoms, cleaned and sliced across the grain (save the tops for a recipe where you’ll puree the soup)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely pressed or chopped
  • 2 large waxy potatoes, like Yukon gold or red potatoes  (I used one of each!)
  • optional:  1 carrot, finely diced
  • 3 spicy Italian sausages, cooked and sliced in half lengthwise and then in thin slices across the grain (I used organic chicken sausages)
  • optional:  red pepper, if you use sweet Italian sausage instead of spicy
  • rosemary sprig (or a few teaspoons of dried rosemary)–I removed the fresh rosemary spring after it flavored the soup
  • optional:  fresh or dried marjoram and/or oregano
  • about a quart of chicken or turkey stock
  • 1-2 quarts fresh kale leaves (measured before tough stems are removed–see below)
  • milk or cream to taste to fill out servings
  • salt and pepper to taste

I prepared this soup in a 2-quart, 8-inch wide cast iron Dutch oven.  The cast iron lets you cook the leeks and garlic at a very low setting without burning them, and then it lets you simmer for a while.  The 2-quart size is ideal for a family of 2-3 people.

Begin by cleaning the leek.  Slice off the root.  Slice off all about about an inch of the green part (the top). (Remember, they’ll go great in a pureed soup!) Slice the leeks lengthwise to clean, leafing through the layers to look for dirt.  Now slice the leek in thin slices across the grain.  Saute the leek slices in olive oil.  Now prep the garlic and add it too, being careful not to burn it.  Dice the potatoes and add them to the mix, stirring regularly.  Now start adding your stock.  Let the potatoes cook in the stock for about 20 minutes until they are soft.  Now add your sliced sausage.  Let the soup simmer while you prepare the kale. (If you wanted to start this soup well in advance, you could prepare it up to this point even the day before.)

Wash the kale thoroughly and remove any tough stems.  Now chop it fine.  When you do, you should notice the sweet aroma, like fresh-cut spring grass.  (My dad agrees that it smells like fresh-cut spring grass!) Kale is an absolutely amazing food, one of the healthiest ever.  One cup boiled, for example, contains 1327% of the USDA recommended daily value of Vitamin K, 192% of the RDV of Vitamin A, and 88% of the RDV of Vitamin C, all for just 36 calories!  Read more about kale’s health benefits here.

About 10-20 minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, add the chopped kale.  Let the soup simmer for 10-20 minutes until it is soft but still bright green.  Add about a cup of milk or cream.  Stir well, heat through, and serve with good, crusty bread, roasted winter squash, and a nice salad of winter greens!

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Broccoli is in season, and we can get it local and organic when we don’t have any in our own garden. I bought some broccoli last week.  We had the florets sauteed, steamed, and in salad.  Then I took on my favorite part:  the stalks.  Broccoli stalks are actually sweeter than the florets, and peeled and sliced they can easily form the basis of a fantastic, rich soup.

Start by dicing one or two red potatoes.  Set aside about two thirds of the diced potatoes.  Toss about a third of the diced potatoes in a medium-sized pot.  Now peel off the outer, woody exterior of a half dozen or so broccoli stalks.  If florets are present, trim them off and set them aside.  We can use some of them.  Slice each stalk in half lengthwise and then slice again across the stalk, in slices each of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch each.  Toss the broccoli stalks in the pot with the potatoes.  Add enough lightly salted water or chicken broth or stock* to cover.  Start cooking.  Add one medium leek (or part of a large one), cut lengthwise and cleaned and then cut across the grain, like you did with the broccoli. Be sure to use the leek tops.  They will help make the soup greener!  Simmer the portion of potatoes, broccoli stems, and leeks for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, put the rest of the diced potatoes on a cast iron baking pan (or any other heavy baking pan), toss with oil and seasoning (I used a Greek seasoning mix), and roast at 400 degrees for about half an hour, turning regularly.

How are the potatoes, stems, and leeks in the pot?  Are they starting to soften?  At half an hour, turn off the heat and take off the lid.  Let the mixture start to cool.  After it has cooled a fair amount, scoop out the solids (potatoes and stems), leaving behind the liquid.  Yes, we’ll use it, just not now.  Put the solids in a blender.  Now add cold milk just to cover; the cold  milk will help you avoid a blender explosion.  Puree until you have a wonderfully smooth mixture.

Pour the pureed mixture back into the pot with the retained liquid.  Add the roasted potatoes.  Add a handful of the florets, cut rather small.  Now heat the soup until the florets are tender.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve. Eat.  Add good grated cheddar cheese to the top if you want.

*Here’s an important frugal tip:  make your own stock or broth by boiling the bones from your roasted birds.  I’ll cover details in a future post.

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