I called my mom to ask her about her vegetable soup recipe, even though I have watched her make it hundreds of times – literally. Her reply was, “I think I can remember it.” Which is so delightfully funny, because my mom has been making her vegetable soup almost weekly for years, many, many years. The recipe is as much a part of her as her crystal blue eyes.
She made it when she and my father farmed in Saskatchewan, Canada, in the 1940’s and 50’s; she made when she moved to the “city” of Brandon, Manitoba and became a homemaker and Avon representative in the 60’s and as a working woman during the 70’s; she made it when she and my father moved to Hawaii in the 80’s and watched the sunset on Waikiki every evening. Now widowed for almost 17 years, she still makes it for herself in her condo at the seniors’ complex and when she comes to visit me in Arizona every fall.
She and I will sit at my kitchen counter and slurp her vegetable soup for lunch, and always I am taken back to my childhood and the comfort of that taste, the aroma. Inevitably, I will say, “Mom, this is soooo good.” And we agree that soup is one of our comfort foods. What has been lovingly made warms the tummy and deeply warms the heart, too.
Yes, it is easy to open a can of soup, but it is also amazingly easy to make a pot of soup. It takes only a few extra minutes to do a bit of chopping and dicing, which can be very centering and meditative, and then let it simmer on the stove (or cook slow in a crockpot). The bonus – that wonderful aroma wafting from the kitchen.
Here’s how my mom relayed the “recipe” to me:
Mom’s Vegetable Soup
In a Dutch oven put:
1 small soup bone (make sure it has a bit of meat and marrow)
Fill the pot 2/3 with water
Add 2 beef OXO cubes * (if you don’t have OXO cubes, see below)
½ medium onion, chopped
Salt, pepper and a good dash or two of Nature’s Seasoning (or other seasoning you like)
Bring to a boil on the stove; add about 1 cup of pot barley (preferred over pearl barley)
Simmer for approximately 1 hour.
2 cups diced celery (add chopped celery leaves if you have them!)
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups chopped onions
2 tablespoons (or so) of chopped parsley
* If you don’t use OXO cubes, add 1 can of beef broth at this time
Simmer on very low heat for approximately 1 hour; then add 1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes.
Taste; add more seasoning if desired.
You can cut the portions of celery, carrots and onions, and add green beans, peas, sliced mushrooms … whatever bits and pieces you might have to use up from your fridge (Plynn’s addition). My mom only adds other vegetables during the summer, when she can pick them fresh from her garden.
I have been doing a “take” on my mom’s recipe for years. The picture in post is one of them. I used the cooking juice from beef ribs (a recipe I will share soon!) instead of making stock from a soup bone, added a can of beef broth, the barley and vegetables my mom always puts in, as well as a quarter of a red pepper, chopped; some sliced mushrooms; a palm sized piece of cauliflower, chopped; and a few frozen peas … all “leftovers” from my fridge.
I’m telling you, you can use whatever you find in those fridge crispers. As long as the soup base is there, go for it! Create something unique and wonderful for your family. I would love to hear what you come up with.
Thanks, Mom … for the soup … for everything.