It’s autumn, my favorite time of year! And, even though it means triple digit temperatures caused by winds off of the desert where I live now, all of those years of living in locations with four seasons has changed my DNA so that I start craving a good homemade soup. So, in honor of the Autumnal Equinox last week, I made a batch of vegetable soup using a recipe from my 1941 Better Homes and Garden Cook Book.
Soup bones are getting a little harder to find at my local grocery stores since they stopped employing butchers and ship in the meat already packaged. It seems like the only person who can cut any meat anymore at the grocery store is the meat manager. I couldn’t find any soup bones so I asked the manager and he brought out some beef shank in 1-pound packages. The shank is a very lean and muscular cut that requires long, liquid cooking which makes it ideal for soups.
Many older soup recipes tell us to crack the bone but if you are using soup bones that have been cut, you don’t need to crack it. The purpose of cracking it is to release flavoring and nutrition of the marrow into the soup. As an aside, I just did a search to see if there is any Mad Cow danger from eating marrow and apparently the general consensus is that there isn’t any real danger (see page 94 of Eat Fat, Lose Fat). In fact, I’ve discovered that many people believe that marrow helps reduce bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a definitive source to back up the cholesterol assertion.
Even though the temperature was in the triple-digits for us last week, eating vegetable soup instead of a garden salad felt wonderful. I guess our bodies just know when it is time to change our eating habits season to season.
One nice thing about vegetable soup is that it is very forgiving. Just throw in whatever vegetables are starting to look a little sad in the crisper. Some vegetables will get a little mushier than others, but they all add to the flavor and help make each batch of soup unique.
Better Homes and Gardens (1941) Vegetable Soup3- to 4-pound beef soup bone 2 quarts cold water 1 small onion, quartered 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups tomatoes 6 sprigs parsely 1/4 head young cabbage, chopped 1/4 cup rice or barley 5 or 6 carrots, sliced 2 cups green beans 1 cup diced potato 1/2 cup chopped celery
Cut half the meat from bone and brown in hot fat. Add remaining meat and bone to cold water. Add browned meat, onion, and salt; cook slowly 2 hours. Add vegetables and continue cooking 1 hour. Serves 8 to 10.
Modern Retro Woman Autumnal Equinox Soup
Note: All amounts are approximations
Cut the meat off of one of the shanks and cube it. I use freezer paper on my cutting board to ease clean-up.
Take the cubed meat and slowly saute’ it in some fat or oil until it is browned on all sides.
Add the rest of the meat and the onion, salt, and water.
Cook slowly for two hours.
After two hours, add the vegetables, barley, bouillon and more water if needed.
Continue cooking for another hour.
Serve with 1/2 sandwich for a classic “soup and sandwich” lunch.
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