Daddy's Vegetable Soup


from the kitchen of
my BROTHER, Jack W. Thomas

This soup recipe was written with his children in mind.
My brother, the oldest child of my family, called "Brother"
has always been very important in my life,
having been a father/mother figure for me,
the youngest of the family.
He is ten years older than I, and was Mama's helper.
I was ten when he left home to go to work and to the Air Force.
To say that I missed him is a huge understatement.
He was wonderful to write letters back-home
to his family which helped a lot
and when he returned home, we all rejoiced.
One of the first things he did was buy a
new 1957 blue and white car. I was 15 then and
true to his nature, he taught me to drive in his new car.
He was my most persistent encourager to buy my computer
and is one of my strongest supporters in every way.
If you can't tell, I love "Brother."

Click here to learn more about Brother.

This is intended only to give you an idea of where to start
to develop your own personal recipe for soup. There is no
limit to the number of ingredients to make wonderful soup.
Some of the items are musts for me and then the others
are whatever happens to be in the fridge or freezer. No two of
my soups ever come out exactly the same, but I usually eat it
all or freeze it and eat it later. Sometimes, but not often,
my children even help eat it.

Several years of experimenting taught me that the best
starting place for soup is about half a pound of beef shank.
Boil the shank until it is done along with some onion, salt and
pepper. Then begin to add the other ingredients (only the ones
you and the family or eaters are expected to like. Most people
get upset when I put turnips in because they look like potatoes
when they are in the soup. Been a long time since I used turnips,
but now that I think about it, the next batch will have turnips.

But anyhow, back to the soup. The single most important thing
is to put the tomatoes or tomato sauce, paste, puree or whatever in
the soup last. The reason for this is that tomatoes stop the
tendering process of all other ingredients. So be sure your
turnips and potatoes and rice are tender before adding the tomatoes.

For me, potatoes are one of the required items. If I don't
have potatoes we just don't make soup till we go to the store.
Another comment about soup as it relates to potatoes, or potatoes
as it relates to soup, and no I am not drinking. I just need to
make this point. If you are intending to freeze any leftovers,
I don't like potatoes in soup after they have been frozen, so
I be sure I eat all the potatoes out of the soup before freezing.
Then when I thaw out the soup, I cook some potatoes and add to
the soup.

Let's see, I have mentioned meat, which can be anything,
chicken or chicken broth or beef broth or bouillon gives a good
stock for starting soup. But anyhow, meat, onion, potatoes,
tomatoes at the right time, celery, bell pepper, rice, okra,
macaroni, purple hull peas (never English peas for me), butterbeans
(and I don't mean dried limas), cream-style corn, squash, cabbage,
green beans.

Back to the tomatoes again. I like the canned stewed
tomatoes best, but tomato sauce works well too. And, oh yeah,
the water. You have to be sure you keep the water and the
ingredients in balance. Depends on how soupy you want it to be.
Until I bought me a four-gallon gumbo pot, I was always running
the pot over 'cause it's hard to stop when you get on a roll.
You know, all the leftovers in the fridge and all the things in
the freezer you've been meaning to use but haven't and so on.

Another required ingredient nobody told me about for a long
time is the addition of two or three tablespoons of vegetable oil.
Used to put a big chunk or two of salt pork in, but the doctor
taught me not to do that. Now once you get this all mixed up,
let it cook for a pretty good while so it all blends together
good and also until you get real hungry, 'cause the hungrier you
are, the better your soup turns out.

One more requirement for me is cornbread. I have to have
cornbread ev-er-ee-time without fail. You probably already have
cornbread knowledge, but what I do is so simple sometimes I make
cornbread just so I can have some to put in my buttermilk. I
buy the packaged mix (3 for a dollar) and I have a 6 muffin pan
I use. Other than the instructions on the package, I add a little
margarine and little salt.

Think I'll quit and go make soup. Good Luck. Hope you can
eat what you make. May take several efforts to zero in on what
you really want. If you have to throw any away, just don't tell
anybody and don't put bay leaves in it. That's the closest I ever
came to throwing any away.

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