Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm a bee, I'm a bee, I'm a, I'm a busy bee...

It's snowing!  Since I'm not allowed to shovel on account of the baby, and it's coming down inches upon inches, I thought I'd be productive today and get a few projects done.  Initially these were going to be cleaning projects, but then the belt on the vacuum broke, and I decided that I'd rather spend the day in my kitchen. I was able to get out of the house early this morning before it got really bad, and chose my weapons of destruction.

The stuff on the counter in the foreground is the ingredients for my Great Grandmother's Vegetable Soup (clearly not vegetarian, 3 lbs of beef!) And in the background I have the makings for a LOT of jam and marmalade.  It's been a busy day, and I'm still going (and probably will be until 2 or 3 am!)

Great Grandma Hulsey's Vegetable Soup

This recipe started with my great grandmother, and she and my grandmother fiddled and fussed with it for years until it became the monstrosity of delicious abundance I know today.  I only knew my great grandmother for a few years before she passed away, but I remember sitting in her kitchen (which should have only held two people but we always squeezed six somehow) and listening to her stories as she cooked on the tiniest stove imaginable.  How she made this soup every year in the minuscule kitchen on that doll sized stove is beyond me, but somehow, twice a year, she made enough soup for an army.

1 Large Soup Bone
2-3 lbs. Beef Cubes
2 Large Cans V8
1 Large Can Tomato Sauce
1 Bunch Celery
5-6 Onions
2 Large or 3 Small Bags Frozen Mixed Vegetables
1 Medium Head Cabbage
8 Russet Potatoes

Now, I've omitted the soup bone, because they can be tricky to find, and honestly, it's not entirely necessary.  My grandmother has been making her mother in law's soup for the last 25 years without one, and it's still delicious.  A word on the vegetables:  I live in Hanover, the town where many frozen vegetable processing are located, and our large bags of vegetables are 3 lbs.  Don't get 3lb bags.  I made that mistake today, and now my vegetable soup is very vegetably.  Now, I like it like this, and I wound up omitting the potatoes because of this snafu (you'll see in the pictures) but it's really up to the cook to make the soup to their liking.

I also tweaked the recipe slightly, adding the following ingredients:

1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 Tsp Paprika
1/8 Tsp Tumeric
1/8 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder

I mixed these ingredients in a Ziploc bag and added my beef cubes, tossing to coat.  I then heated 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil in a LARGE stock pot (I use a crab pot, and it barely works) and then added the beef, turning to brown, but not to cook through.

The onions and celery got a dice (oh the humanity! Five large onions!) and then added to the beef to sauté briefly.

After that, the V8, Tomato Sauce, and cabbage go into the pot.  Add one Tomato Sauce can full of water, and one and a half V8 cans of water to the mix (if that makes any sense.)  This delightful mixture gets simmered for at least 3 hours, and stirred occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom.  I went for 4, since I was mid other projects when the three hour mark came and went.

After 3-4 hours go by, add the mixed veggies and, if you have the room in the pot, the potatoes.  My two bags of veggies equaled six lbs, so I had NO ROOM in the pot after that, but the soup was a chunky masterpiece.

This now gets simmered another hour, and it's ready for eating!  Or in my case, it gets simmered almost three hours because of the apple butter (bottom right corner of the picture above) taking FOREVER to thicken properly and then to can it.  I know my stove is twice the size of Grandma Hulsey's, and I STILL ran out of room!  I think I need two stove tops to keep up with canning, I really do.
Quite some time later, seven quarts of my soup made there way into my pressure cooker for processing (75 minutes due to the beef, 10 lbs pressure at sea level - 1,000 ft, 15 lbs above 1,000 ft if you're using a weighted cooker like mine.) Hours later (because these things take a while to decompress) I took off the lid and saw my labor of love preserved for me.
And I realized I'd forgotten to add vinegar to my water before closing the lid on the cooker.  It keeps white splotches from forming on jars and lids.  I know it's just mineral deposits from the steam, but still, I know better.  Still, my jars of soup look pretty good!


Keep Eating!


  1. Nice work! Love the canned soup. One day I'll try that!

  2. Love that pressure cooker! Looks good I'll have to come get some!