It took me longer this year than usual to break out The Giant Soup Pot for my annual commencement of Autumn. Heck with calendars, equinoxes, and stores that have already pushed the Halloween merchandise out the door to rush in Santa. Fall does not begin until the vegetable soup is cookin’ and my heart is swirling with magic and expectation, like a miniature vortex of candy-colored leaves whirling inside my chest.
I’m going to provide a recipe below for you, but this soup is easily adaptable to any vegetables you have on hand. It’s a great way to use up lingering garden produce, that half a head of cabbage you have leftover in the crisper drawer, or last year’s frozen bounty as you clear out to make room for this season’s harvest. And if you aren’t the gardening type? Don’t panic. Fresh, frozen, and canned veggies from the store work just as well. The soup only has to be as much work as you want it to be. It’s also easy to turn this fully vegetarian, it is entirely up to you.
The only MUST is a giant pot. Many have tried to adapt The Soup to smaller portions, but all have failed. It’s expansive and hearty and doesn’t lend itself well to being tamed. But as I was telling a friend, that is the whole purpose of The Soup. It’s meant to draw in company and nourish those you love- or even those you barely know. It’s an offering to the seasonal spirits, a feast of thanks for the abundance in our lives.
Serve it up as I have here with buttery loaves of freshly baked bread, and brownies for dessert. Or choose your own favorites, from yeasty rolls to crisp crackers. Leftovers can easily be frozen in portion-sized freezer bags (don’t forget to mark them!) and taken out on any chilly afternoon to bring you warmth and comfort again.
The Soup Recipe
- 8 oz Beef Bottom Round Roast (optional, leave this out for vegetarian version)
- 6 quarts vegetable stock
- 1 quart tomato juice (more if needed)
- 1 small head of cabbage
- 8 medium poatoes
- 16 oz carrots (baby or regular)
- 16 oz whole kernel corn
- 8 oz peas
- 8 oz green beans
- 8 oz green lima beans
- 6 stalks of celery
- 5 medium onions
- 24 oz peeled whole tomatoes
Place beef in your stockpot along with vegetable stock, bring to a low boil and keep it there while you prepare the other ingredients. You can add water to the stock if needed, just make sure your meat is covered with liquid. If you’re opting for a vegetarian meal, just omit the beef. After adding each new element, make sure to stir and add liquid if needed. I like to keep an extra can of tomato juice on hand just in case.
Scrub the potatoes. I prefer to leave the skin on, but if you want to peel them now would be the time. Coarsely chop them into about 1 inch pieces and add to pot.
Scrub the carrots. If you’re using baby carrots you may just add them whole. For larger carrots, roughly chop them into 1 inch sections and add to pot.
Remove outer leaves of cabbage and rinse remaining head clean. Remove stem area and discard. Roughly chop the rest of your cabbage. I like to start by chopping the head in half, then into fourths, working it down into smaller sections that are easier to handle. When finished, add to pot.
Add whole tomatoes. If these are canned, add entire contents including juice.
Pour in tomato juice.
Peel any stringiness from celery, chop into 1 inch sections and add to pot. I like to use the whole stalk, leaves and all.
Peel and roughly chop onions and add to pot.
Add the rest of your veggies- corn, peas, green beans, lima beans. If you’re using fresh make sure to clean and prepare them first.
Stir, stir, stir and add salt to taste. If there’s more room in your pot, you can always toss in more veggies! I like to make this in the evening and leave it on the stove simmering all night on the smallest burner at the lowest setting. This allows all the flavors to cook down and develop while the vegetables soften. We usually reheat it for two or three days before freezing any leftovers and it only gets better each time.