Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vegetable Beef Soup a la FriedOkra

We're eatin' the HECK out of some soup lately. I've made about 20 kinds of soup, a few new recipes and a few old stand-bys, since Christmas thanks to my gorgeous new All-Clad stockpot that my fabulous husband gave me. OHMYGRANNY y'all I love that stockpot. Sometimes I sneak down in the middle of the night just to pull it gently and lovingly out of the cabinet and run my hands all over its shiny, sturdy, culinary wondrousness. I know this makes me a kitchen-geekish freak of nature, but I have to say that that pot is among the top three gifts anyone has ever given me.

I'm gettin' goosebumps just thinking about it. And the best part is, did I tell you this already? Well hold on let me back up here and share the whole story. See, long about the first of December, Bean and I were havin' a cup of tea when she piped up voluntarily, "Mama, I hope you want a diamond necklace for Christmas."

And why, I asked warily, do you hope that?

"'Cause that's what I told Daddy to get you."

Will it make me sound spoiled if I say my heart sank at that moment? I love diamonds. I have one in a ring that I wear on the third finger of my left hand every day and that diamond is another one of those Top Three gifts I just mentioned. It's beautiful, it's ME, it's full of meaning and memories and promises and it's all the diamond this woman will ever need. I treasure that one. Any other diamond that comes into my life is gonna have an uphill battle to make itself heard among the choruses of angels that sing whenever I look at my engagement ring. And I am not kidding.

You're lookin' at a woman who just does not need nor want another diamond. (Did I say that outloud?)

But, oh girl, I am ALL UP IN DAT kitchen bling lately. I've been cookin' my big batches of soups and stews and bolognese sauce in this weird blue spotty aluminum pasta pot I bought with "points" I won by doing I'm certain was ABSOLUTELY SPECTACULAR (eyeroll) back in my OHMYGRANNY HOW DID I GET TO BE A STOCKBROKER AND WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE WAKE ME UP FROM THIS NIGHTMARE days. It was the one thing you could buy with the piddlin' little number of points I "won" and believe me, it was worth all 2 of them. Just to get that thing to boil a substantial amount of water, I'd have to get started about 6 hours in advance, and after I'd added whatever I was tryin' to "cook," there'd be another hold period of about an hour and a half. Took me somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 solid hours to cook a pot of angel hair. Eight of those I'd spend hovering over the stove, watchin' and waitin' for JUST THAT ONE ... LITTLE .... BUBBLE ... TO INDICATE WE WERE GETTIN' SUMM'ERS. The other two I'd spend engaged in declaring that when I got this stinkin' angel hair cooked I WAS THROWIN' THIS STUPID POT AWAY FOR GOOD, punctuated at the end each time by my favorite non-swear swear that I hurl around frequently to this day - YOU OL' STINK BUCKETY PIECE-A-JUNK!

But I never threw it away because it was the only pot I had big enough to fully immerse a whole chicken in water without flooding the entire lower level of the house when (if) it eventually came to a boil. I'm counting now and y'all? I have limped along using that OL' STINK BUCKETY PIECE-A-JUNK for SEVENTEEN YEARS.

And enough is enough. And I did not wish to hurt my baby's feelings, but I know what a diamond necklace costs, and I know what an All-Clad stock pot costs (because I have spent countless hours with my face glued to my computer screen staring at it like a love-sick 1970s teenaged girl lookin' at pictures of Donny Osmond. But not on a computer. On an album jacket or a Tiger Beat Magazine. Anyway!) and for my Santa money, I knew which one I wanted to find in my proverbial stocking Christmas morning. So I gently LED Bean in the right direction - where LED includes endless hours of "repeat after me" games, flashcards, and possibly me sneaking into her room in the wee hours of the morning chanting "All-Clad Stainless Steel Stock Pot" into her ear. She woke up mornings and I'd say, "How was your sleepy, Bean?" and she'd blink repeatedly and then spit out:

  • 18/10 nonreactive stainless-steel cooking surface that's easy to clean
  • Three-layer core of aluminum for fast and efficient heat conduction
  • Outer layer of magnetic stainless steel for use on induction, gas, and electric ranges
  • Mirror-polished exterior and stay-cool handles produced from cast stainless steel
  • Dishwasher-safe; hand washing recommended; lifetime warranty; oven-safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
And I would smile to myself as Al scratched his head.

And I got my pot.

But I did not come here to tell you about my pot. (Although I could sing of its quick cooking and easy clean-up forever, I assure you.)

I came, as I am wont to do, to share a recipe for some of the best soup I've made in my brand new Porsche pot.

It's shy, unassuming soup mostly - a bit of a corner-sittin' wallflower - but it there's something about it that makes me want to be around it. Pursue it a little further and get to know what lies beneath that simple, humble exterior. And like most of us introverts, if you give it time, a handful of crumbled saltines, and a couple little shakes of Tabasco, it climbs up and dances on the table!

Vegetable Beef Soup

1 large onion
2 T. olive oil
2 quarts low-sodium V-8 juice
1 cup good-quality beef stock
1 (16 ounce or larger - I'd go for at least 20 oz of veggies) package frozen mixed vegetables
4 potatoes, cubed
2 pounds cubed beef stew meat (leftover pot roast or steak works well here)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
garlic salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

Optional: A little finely sliced fresh cabbage cooked in with the other veggies or some fresh spinach added a few minutes before serving.

Saute the onion and meat in the oil in your favorite stock pot until the onion's getting transparent and the meat's browned on all sides. (If you're using leftover, pre-cooked meat, don't put the meat in yet.) Pour in the V-8, stock, and all the veggies including the potatoes. Stir in your herbs, garlic salt and pepper. Be somewhat conservative with the salt - you can add more at the end if it's needed. Bring all that to a boil and stir, then reduce the heat to a nice simmer. Cook 2 hours (or more, even!) stirring occasionally and checking the meat for tenderness. (If you're using leftover meat, add that about 30-45 minutes before you want to eat.)

Once you get that meat nice and tender, you're there. Adjust your seasonings, give 'er a good stir and serve it up with some saltines and hot sauce. Or corn bread and grated cheddar. The possibilities are endless, just don't use the good china. Good china never fares well when there's table dancing involved, I've found.

Happy eatin', y'all.

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  1. Ack! I'm nursin a sick baby while I proof read this and it pains me y'all are going to read this recipe and think Well Megan, where I come from, meat doesn't get trasparent, no matter how long you sauté it! So for now, until I can get back to my computer and rectify that boo boo, just let me say you let the onions get transparent and you brown the meat on all sides. There. I feel better already.

  2. I was a bit confused about the transparent meat, but I just figured it was just one more thing about cooking I will never understand. :-)
    Soup has been, and still is, the one sure-fire puker-upper for me this pregnancy, so I'm going to file this away till after Sprout and her wacky hormones exit my body. :-)
    Hope the baby gets better soon!!

  3. I don't even like to cook and I'd still rather have a new stockpot than a diamond. :) I love the story, Bean is too cute. xoxo

  4. I make a soup that is a lot like this one, but it's Vegetable with out meat. My hubby would love the meat thrown in though! Doesn't V8 do wonders for soup?

  5. I have the all clad was one of the things I bought for us before we were married, and I love that stuff. I think I got a 7 piece set for a couple hundred dollars (like 15 years ago).

    At my husband's urging, I once bought a $30 cheapo non-stick pan, and it is torched. I bet we've had it for one year. When it comes to pots, you get what you pay for, I'm afraid.

    Anyway, I love the story about your stink-buckety old blue pot. If you had never had it, you know, you would not totally appreciate your new pot. And what ever would you have blogged about?

  6. I share the love language of kitchen bling. And I'll have you know that reading this yesterday inspired me to go ahead and buy the enamel-clad cast-iron Dutch oven I've been drooling over for more than a year. (There's a picture on my post today.)

    I'd been putting it off for no discernible reason. Reading your post made me think, "I want to be like Megan! It's time for a little kitchen bling of my own." Thanks for the push! And here's to many more successful winter recipes in the near future.

  7. I am so like you! I don't like jewelry, and LOVE my kitchen gadgets! I have some Christmas money, and I will have to look into that stock pot!!! I love All-Clad!

  8. CONGRATS on your new baby.

    My MIL got me a plug in griddle for Christmas and oh my goodness, it has changed my LIFE.

    I posted several soup recipes on my blog, like, a week ago, if you need some more. Because I am all about soup.