I think moms everywhere make vegetable soup. It’s such a great mix of delicious, nutritious and convenient. Soups really are at their best during the cold winter months and this is especially true for this soup. I haven’t forgotten about the chilly and charming gazpacho from Spain or the many sweet fruit soups that show up on summer menus in restaurants. It’s about preference. Are you eating a cold soup to cool off or a steaming, hot soup that makes all seem warm and right with the world? There’s a big difference.
Soups like Caroline’s are made from summer vegetables that have been preserved and saved for the months when fresh vegetables are rare. In winter months, canned tomatoes and frozen vegetables make it easy on home chefs to bring back the very taste of summer. Adding a small amount of ground beef adds a richness and warmth that makes the cold more bearable. It helps that canned tomatoes are possibly the only canned item that isn’t frowned upon by serious chefs. Tomatoes are amazing when the hot summer days seem to bake them into perfection on the vine, but canning catches that essence and makes for an indispensible pantry staple.
This recipe makes a ton of soup so you’ll not only have plenty to eat now, but you can freeze quite a bit to have on hand for quick meals later. You can also cut down the recipe easily and/or change up the vegetables to suit your tastes. Ours always has okra added. I am not a big fan of okra, but I like the texture the soup has when okra has been added. I just tell mama to pass her bowl over and I spoon the okra into her bowl and move on. You can use fresh vegetables or frozen or canned. Add whatever vegetable your family loves but be careful of broccoli or cauliflower, as they will dominate the flavor of the soup.
In our kitchen, we almost always add a can of water for every can of tomatoes used for soup or chili. This isn’t necessary but in my opinion, the flavor is too strong and acidic without it. If you decide to use canned vegetables make sure you drain them well. Mama always adds spaghetti to the soup but you can omit it or add barley, rice or wild rice.
*If you don’t eat meat, no problem. This recipe is for you too! Just leave out the ground beef and you are set. I would add a couple of not beef bouillon cubes to enrich the flavor of the soup.
Make a pone of cornbread for dipping and you’re all set!
- 3- 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
- 1-15 ounce can petite cut tomatoes
- Add water in a 1:1 ratio with amount of canned tomatoes. (For every can of tomatoes used, add a “can” of water)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 cup cabbage, roughly cut
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 2/3 cup carrots, diced
- 2 cups corn kernels
- 1 cup from baby lima beans
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 cups okra
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- ¼ pound spaghetti, broken in half
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large stock pot, add the tomatoes, water, onion, celery, carrots, cabbage, corn and lima beans. Bring to a boil and lower to medium heat. Break up the ground beef and add (raw) to the soup. Cook at a slow simmer for 1 hour.
- Add the diced potatoes, okra and spaghetti to the soup and cook until the potatoes are fully cooked.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.