LONGLEAF STORIES

full circle in the hundred acre wood

Red Soup

Red Soup

Red Soup was a specialty of my late mother-in-law, Lois. She had the most beautiful porcelain complexion, even at 81. I especially miss her low chuckle and flashing big brown eyes.

Her soup is “just” vegetable beef soup, very simple except for the fact that it can prevent the common cold and cure the heartbreak of psoriasis.

I don’t measure anything. You know how it is with making vegetable soup. You start out with Something, and end up with the kitchen sink. All I know is that I seem to be congenitally incapable of making a small pot of soup. Buck would happily eat the entire pot, day by day, as long as it took, until the pot was empty, but after the first supper and then one more, I divide it up into freezer containers and add it to my stock of buried treasure.

Generally, this is how it goes:

Put a chunk of beef (I often use a chuck or blade roast) in a large soup pot, add a mix of water and beef broth (or chicken broth) to cover. Add several whole peppercorns and a little salt. Chop up an onion, a couple ribs of celery and two or three carrots. Add them to the pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about two hours until tender. (You can do this part a day in advance if you want to be able to chill it and spoon off any fat on the top.)

Remove the beef from the pot, cut it into pieces, then return it to the pot. Add your choice of veggies. I usually chop another onion, more carrots, several turnip roots, a potato or two and some green beans. Add a large (28 oz.) can of tomatoes and more broth and/or water to bring it to a consistency that looks right to you. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the root vegetables are tender. Bring to a boil again and add a bag of frozen succotash (corn and lima beans) or mixed vegetables. For us, it’s not “red soup” if we don’t add a bag of chopped okra, but I realize that’s a very personal choice. Fresh okra is best, but usually only available in the summer. Simmer for another twenty minutes, and then add a small handful of dried spaghetti, broken in thirds. Simmer for about ten minutes. Correct the seasoning. It’s soup.

Note: I am not intentionally writing screwy recipe instructions. I haven’t written out recipes often, so I hope you will be patient with me on the learning curve. If you really want to make this recipe and anything is unclear, please let me know and I’ll provide a more structured and precise version.

This is also tasty with no meat or with chicken (although with chicken I prefer it more plain, just with onions, carrots, celery and noodles.)

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