by Helen Legare
Winter was slow coming to the Lowcountry. Many of us were beginning to think we wouldn’t have any cold weather this winter. The last few days have killed that thought. We actually need some cold weather to kill off the bad insects and slow down invasive pest like kudzu.
Cold weather makes us think of soup and chili.
Nothing is better than a good vegetable soup on a cold day. Of course it has to be homemade vegetable soup and made with local vegetables.
You have to start planning well in advance to make vegetable soup in the winter. You can also make vegetable soup when the vegetables are in season and can it in jars for winter consumption. I like to use tomatoes that I canned in June for just this reason. I also use butterbeans, corn, okra, and peas that were frozen last summer when in season. We usually have fresh carrots ready to come out of the ground in the cooler months. I like to add potatoes to my soup but unfortunately my potatoes from last summer are usually long gone by now. Potatoes are easy to find and purchase from a good source.
If you are a vegetarian, you have everything you need to make soup with these ingredients. I having been raised on a cattle farm, am not a vegetarian. I add beef stew meat to my soup but can also use ground beef in a pinch. Now all you have to do is serve the soup over a big bowl of rice. Add a glass of sweet tea and you have a complete meal.
A trick that we do at my house, with left over vegetables is keep a big container in the freezer. Every time we have a small amount of left over vegetables, we add it to the container. Save all the vegetable juice as well as vegetables. The container will have many levels of different levels of vegetables. This makes a great addition to your soup. Just drop it into the mix.
1 ½ quarts water
8 cups peeled, cubed chopped tomatoes
6 cups peeled cubed potatoes
4 cups lima beans/peas
4 cups okra, cut in bite size pieces
4 cups cut corn, uncooked
6 cups carrots
2 cups celery (optional)
2 cups chopped onion
Other vegetables that may be added: squash, zucchini, green beans, kale, turnips
Combine water and vegetables; bring to boil then cook over slow heat for about 1 hour. Stew meat (2 lbs) may be added for a complete meal.
To can vegetable soup: combine ingredients and boil 5 minutes. Pour into hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Leave out meat if canning, it can be added when you are ready to eat. Add ¼ teaspoon salt to each pint jar, ½ teaspoon salt to each quart jar. Adjust lids; process in pressure canner at 10 pounds’ pressure (240 degrees). Process pints for 55 minutes, quarts for 85 minutes. Yield: 14 pints or 7 quarts.