Friday, February 1, 2013

Madam Carvill's Vegetable Soup

I’m sorry for not living up to my promise of weekly-ish posts. I’ve got all the usual excuses of X-mas, New Years, house shopping busy-ness, and the flu (poor husband) but the truth is I just wasn’t feeling very creative or energetic. Post holiday blues or something but it took quite a few inspiring blog posts (like this and this one and oh doesn’t this sounds good?) to get my creative juices cooking again. I’ll try to be better... So now onto today’s 100 year old recipe:

Madam Carvill’s Vegetable Soup
The American Woman's Cookbook
Take a medium size piece of soupmeat (knuckle of beef is best), boil for two or three hours; then strain and return to pot. Then take one-fourth head of cabbage, one carrot, two medium onions, one white turnip, two or three stalks of celery, parsley, mix together and chop fine. One half cup of rice, add to broth when soup is near done; add one can of corn; one of tomatoes (strained). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes about four quarts or enough for eight persons.

Madame Carvill’s Vegetable Soup seems pretty normal right? Nowadays people generally reach for chicken broth when making most soups, and would probably leave out the animal products altogether when making a vegetable soup, but the addition of a from scratch beef broth adds a nice depth to the soup. I used a small piece of shank and boiled it for three hours. I opted to not chop the veggies too finely because A) I don’t have the knife skills or patience and B) I like my vegetable soups to have some texture. I’ve never added rice to soup before, and didn’t let it cook long enough because I assumed the grain would continue to absorb broth and soften even when the soup wasn’t boiling. I was wrong, so my soup ended up with al dente rice, which doesn’t bother me but the husband didn’t like how it stuck in his teeth a bit (poor baby).

Overall the soup is good. After skimming away a good amount of the fat from the beef shank, the soup is basically just lots of veggie goodness. I’ve never added cabbage or turnips to soup, and I will from now on. Turnips in soup turn into little delicate cubes of slightly sweet goodness and the cabbage added some nice texture and variety. With a few minor changes this soup will likely become a staple during the cold winter months because it’s satisfying but basically just a bunch of veggies (so that means I can eat many cookies a cookie right?).

To go along with the soup I decided to make some bread because soup deserves something to be dipped in it. I’ve had great success with the no-knead boule since it’s beyond easy and you end up with amazing, chewy, crusty, delicious fresh bread. I won’t go into detail about the process but you should read what Deb wrote because she explains beautifully why this process guarantees super awesome bread.  I should have checked that I had all the ingredients because I was all excited to make it and then noticed that I was running low on white, all-purpose flour. I ended up tweaking the recipe a bit by replacing ⅔ cups of white all-purpose with wheat all-purpose flour. I was worried that the heavier flour might slow down the yeast so I mixed in 1 tablespoon of molasses into the water to give the little yeast guys something to get them going, plus I thought the molasses would bring out the wheat-yness.

The bread turned out wonderfully, and had the same chewy texture, but a slightly less crunchy crust. It was so good warm and buttered with a bowl full of Madame Carvill’s Vegetable Soup.

Phoebe’s Vegetable Soup
Adapted from Madam Carvill’s Vegetable Soup
The American Woman’s Cookbook

To make your own beef broth start with a piece of beef shank or another cut that includes a bone that has been cut (so the marrow is exposed) and some meat either attached or buy a little bit of stew meat to include. Put in a large pot and add water. I used an 8 quart pot and filled to almost full. Once it’s boiling, turn down so it simmers, check on it every 30 min or so for 3 hours and then strain.

4 quarts of broth/ stock (homemade or store bought: beef, chicken or veggie)
¼ of a head of cabbage, chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 carrot, chopped into ¼ inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
1 turnip chopped into ¼ inch cubes
3 stalks of celery chopped into ¼ inch pieces
½ cup parsley roughly chopped
1 12 ounce can drained or 1 and ½ cups of corn
1 12 ounce can drained or 2-3 medium tomatoes seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in large stock pot until it bubbles. Add carrots, celery and onion. Sauté until the veggie are starting to brown a bit. If your pot is not non-stick then you may have accumulated a lovely brown coating at bottom of your pot (I know this has a name, but can't remember it right now). Pour a cup or two of broth in and scrape the bottom to dissolve all that yummy goodness. Add the rest of the broth, cabbage and turnip and bring to a boil for a few minutes. Then add the corn, tomatoes and parsley and cook for another minute or two. Season with salt and pepper. The soup can be served immediately or left to simmer a while longer (15-30 min) to help the flavors meld together more, just try to avoid turning it to mush by cooking too long. Reheats well and can be frozen.

Next Up: Spider Corn Cakes

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