When I was a little girl, my parents and I spent most Sunday evenings at my Poppy’s house. The four of us – Dad, Mom, Pop and I – would eat dinner and then settle in to watch Lawrence Welk and The Wonderful World of Disney together before Dad drove Mom and me home. On cold, dark winter nights, dinner was (more often than not) a piping bowl of Pop’s homemade vegetable soup, served with as many Saltines as I could eat.
Pop was my maternal grandfather and I was his only granddaughter, so we had a pretty special relationship. Anyway, back then I was not much of a vegetable lover (I still hate cooked peas), and until I was about four, I would not eat more than a few token bites of Pop’s soup, subsisting Sunday nights almost entirely on crackers and milk. But then Pop pulled a trick out of his sleeve – he started adding a can of Campbell’s Alphabet Soup to his soup just for me, and those mushy little pasta letters changed everything.
I loved to hunt for the letters to spell my name, or the dog’s name, or anything really. I’d collect letters on my spoon, read them to everyone, and then gobble them up in one bite. Spell a word, eat a bite. Spell another word, eat another bite. In the process, I completely forgot to be picky about what surrounded them, and before I knew it, I was eating Pop’s soup like it was going out of style. To this day, I still include that silly little can of soup, and every overcooked letter on my spoon reminds me of my sweet Poppy.
- 1 large Beef soup bone, (optional)
- 2 quarts water (or 2 qts. vegetable stock if not using soup bone)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbs salt
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 4 medium carrots, sliced
- 1 medium turnip, pared and chopped
- 1 cup chopped cabbage
- 1 cup corn
- ½ cup peas
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed
- 2 1-lb. cans cut tomatoes (I use Petite Cut with Onions & Garlic)
- ⅓ cup pearl barley
- 1 can Campbell's Alphabet Soup (Optional)
- Season with salt, pepper, basil, oregano and hot sauce as desired
- Place soup bone in a large Dutch oven and cover with water. Add bay leaves. Simmer 2 hours. Remove soup bone and give it to the dog! Let stock cool and skim fat. (For Vegetarian soup, and just use vegetable stock instead and skip ahead.)
- Add all remaining ingredients except Campbell's Soup and simmer 2 more hours.* Adjust seasonings. Add Campbell's Soup if desired.
This soup is really better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to blend. Other vegetables can be added and amounts adjusted to suit your taste.
There aren’t many pictures in this post: there doesn’t need to be. There really is only one real step: put everything in a pot and let it simmer. Like most soups, this is much better the day after, so plan for leftovers. And serve with Saltines.