Years ago, my husband wanted me to taste a soup he’d enjoyed at a small deli. It was a bit unusual for him to be so excited about soup of any kind so I decided it must be good and agreed to go with him to try it. Of course, the real reason he wanted me to taste it was to see if I could duplicate it at home.
The soup, made with ground beef and vegetables, had a little bite to it, so I knew it probably had some hot pepper sauce in it. It took me a little while to figure it out, but I was able to duplicate it. I don't mean the recipe was exactly the same, of course — what I wanted to achieve was the deli soup’s flavor, which I did in the following recipe.
When I went in search of a good vegetable soup recipe, I didn't realize how difficult the research would be. I thought almost any Southern cookbook would have recipes for old-fashioned vegetable soup like the kind I remembered from childhood, but I looked through many cookbooks without success.
I wish I’d paid more attention when my mother was cooking. I remember her vegetable soup usually started with tomatoes she’d canned over the summer. To that she would add just about any vegetables she had on hand, which usually included potatoes, cabbage, onions, green beans, corn and maybe a few more. And she’d sometimes add canned corn beef to her soup pot. Perhaps I will just have to experiment and see how close I can come to that wonderful vegetable soup flavor from my childhood.
Those who are trying to cut back on fat might like the following fat-free vegetable soup. It actually tastes great and you can eat more than one bowl without guilt.
DELI VEGETABLE BEEF SOUP
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 (28 ounce) can tomatoes
2 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) cream of potato soup
1 (16 ounce) can mixed vegetables (do not drain)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 to 6 drops Tabasco sauce (or to taste)
In large soup pot, cook onion and beef in the oil until beef is browned. Add tomatoes, potato soup, mixed vegetables and water. Stir to mix well. Add salt, black pepper and Tabasco. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until all ingredients are thoroughly heated.
FAT FREE VEGETABLE SOUP
1 quart water
3 cups chopped cabbage
2 cups chopped potatoes
1 cup chopped onion
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian style diced tomatoes (with garlic, oregano and basil)
1 (28 ounce) can mixed vegetables
2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco (or to taste)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Combine water, cabbage, potatoes and onion in large soup pot. Cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender but not mushy. Add remaining ingredients and let simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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