Hello! It's not really been "soup weather" most of this week, what with temps that felt more like May in these parts (mid-60's some days!) Nevertheless, I made a nice, easy soup a few days ago to ease my cold symptoms. Today is definitely a "soup weather" day, though (30's and a light coating of snow), so I'll post the recipe I used, with adaptations explained after.
Easy Soup (adapted from Marcia Adams' Cooking From Quilt Country)
1 large onion
4 stalks celery
2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil (Adams specifies the larger amount, but I've found the lesser measurement is plenty)
4-6 cups broth of choice (turkey, chicken, beef or vegetable, see note)
1 15-ounce can navy beans (see note)
1 15-ounce can tomatoes, drained and chopped (see note)
1 10-ounce bag frozen mixed vegetables (see note)
1/4 cup quick-cooking pearled barley (see note)
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme, optional (see note)
1 cup mashed potatoes (see note)
1/2 cup half and half (see note)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (see note)
Chop onion and celery. Heat oil in large kettle; cook onion and celery until the onion is transparent. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the potatoes, half and half and parsley. Cover, bring to a boil over high heat, and then lower heat to simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until barley is tender. Add the potatoes, half and half, and parsley, and simmer 5 minutes longer.
This may look like a lengthy list of ingredients, but they're ones that are common (except maybe the barley), so you may have them on hand already, and prep time is short. And once the soup kettle ingredients have come to a boil, the total cooking time is a mere 15-17 minutes. I'd call that easy for a soup recipe!
Now on to the notes:
I think that 4 cups of broth makes for a very thick soup, so I increase the amount to 6 cups. Try it either way.
Adams calls for 4 cups of turkey broth, since she designed this recipe to be prepared with stock made from the carcass leftover from a Thanksgiving dinner. And I admit, I do make it that way (she supplies the turkey stock recipe on the preceding page of this cookbook). I haven't hosted a turkey dinner in awhile, but buy one when they're on sale in November and stick it in the freezer until I feel like cooking it. Same with the carcass - I freeze it as well, until I feel like making Adams' stock recipe.
Of course, the better the broth, the better the soup, but feel free to substitute other flavors of homemade or commercial broths.
The recipe calls for navy beans, but use any other cooked beans that you may have on hand. I cook large amounts of dried beans in my slow cooker, then package them up for freezer storage. Then I just pull out whatever type I feel like on soup-making day.
I use a can of petite-diced tomatoes to save on the mess of having to chop whole canned tomatoes.
I usually buy a 1-pound bag of soup vegetables to use with this recipe. Since Adams created this recipe "for the busy Thanksgiving weekend...you can add any leftover vegetables from the holiday dinner or any other fresh vegetables you prefer." In other words, feel free to use what you have on hand.
I didn't have quick-cooking pearl barley on hand when I made this a few days ago, so instead I added a half-cup of small-size shell pasta, whose cooking time matched that of the recipe's. I think I could have increased that amount to 3/4 cup or even a full cup of uncooked pasta.
I did use all the specified seasonings listed, including the optional dried thyme, but also added a small amount from a "soup seasoning" mixture I'd gotten in bulk at an Amish grocery store. If you use other seasonings when making this type of broth-based soup, you can add them instead if you wish.
I'm guessing that Adams stuck mashed potatoes in her soup since, again, they were likely a leftover component from her Thanksgiving dinner. (Her recipe for mashed potatoes follows this soup recipe). I had just the right of leftover mashed potatoes in my freezer, but I'm sure you could use leftover boiled potatoes, or cook a potato in advance to add to the soup.
I don't use half and half for this recipe, just milk.
I had fresh parsley in my freezer, harvested and frozen in the fall from my deck planting. You can use dried parsley, but fresh really is nicer.
Adams states that this recipe yields "12 hearty servings", which seems a little low for a soup that begins with only 4 cups of stock. You also may have noticed that there's no meat in the recipe, so perhaps she meant for this soup to be served as a light lunch for house guests over a Thanksgiving weekend. Feel free to add turkey, chicken, beef, etc. to your soup if you prefer. I've sometimes added turkey, but didn't this time since we'd recently come back from a trip and had thus had been eating richer foods than we usually do.
Even when making this with 6 cups of broth, I'm not sure that "12 hearty servings" is realistic when using this as the main dinner course. But it would likely serve 4-6 people that way.
Okay, I think that's enough talk about the recipe, now here's a pic:
And yes, it tasted as good as it looked!