When the thermometer gets stuck under 10 degrees as it did a couple times last weekend, it’s soup time.
Course, soup is always good, but especially so when it’s so cold that iguanas are falling out of trees in Florida. Plus, soups and stews are among the easiest meals of all to prepare. If you have a crockpot and stuff in the refrigerator, you’ve got the makings of stew.
I am reminded of “Whatcha Got Stew”, a story by Patrick McManus describing a bunch of hunters gathering around a fire and making stew.
“Whatcha Got?” somebody asked. “That sounds good, put it in the pot.” No matter what the hunters had – possums, coon meat, bologna, whatever – it went in the pot.
I made a vegetable beef soup this week out of “Whatcha Got” stuff and it turned out well. Here’s how I did it.
Vegetable beef soup needs a little beef, most any cut would do, so I hit the meat department at Krogers. Many cooks use stew beef, already cut up, but I prefer better cuts of meat – if they’re on sale. I rooted around and found a pound and a half chuck steak, cutting it into bite size pieces and discarding any fat and gristle. In a tablespoon of olive oil, I browned the meat and removed from from the frying pan.
Into my crock pot (with a crock pot liner for easier clean ups), I put the browned meat, a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, a 14 ounce can of tomato sauce, a pack of onion soup mix, four cups of water and two cup of tomato juice. I turned the heat on low, left for work and when I came home, I added two thawed packages of frozen soup vegetables, assorted stuff, but you can use a couple packs of any frozen veggies. Next, I turned the pot on high, let it cook for another hour and we poured ourselves a couple bowls of delicious soup. I made a loaf of homemade bread that morning and when smothered in butter, it went quite well with the soup. It’s a decent recipe. Try it, but don’t be afraid to add your own variations. After all, “Whatcha got?”
Vegetable Beef Soup
1 ½ pounds chuck or round steak
28 oz. can Crushed tomatoes
14 oz. can tomato sauce
4 C water
2 C tomato juice
2 pkg. frozen and assorted soup vegetables
1 pkg. onion soup mix
Salt & Pepper to taste