Monday, October 14, 2013
Every fall and winter, I make a very simple and filling soup, that I dubbed "Elementary School Soup". My daughter, who is "allergic to vegetables" and is extremely picky, loves it. My husband loves it. So does my son. Anytime company comes and I make "Elementary School Soup", they just go on and on about how good it is. Even my son-in-love, who doesn't like anything (no, his name isn't Mikey) has eaten it and liked it enough to eat two bowls of it. I always get the biggest kick out of the ooh's and ahh's! Not that it gives me a big head or anything but I am amazed at how something so simple and easy to make, is gobbled up without complaint.
I always make a large stock pot filled to the top, with the soup. We all eat a bowl or two. In any other home, there would be enough for leftovers or to put in the freezer. Not in my house. My, "allergic to veggies", daughter will show up and she will leave with what is left...every drop that is left. She takes it to work with her and eats on it all day and if there is anything left, she takes it home and eats the rest of it for supper and snacks. Now y'all need to understand that my pot holds forty quarts! 30 QUARTS! She eats all but about a gallon and a half, of the soup. LoL She is skinny as a rail! I don't know where she puts all that soup!
So many times, I've been asked why it is called "Elementary School Soup". Way back in the day... in my elementary school years, I attended Mt. Enterprise Elementary School in Mt. Enterprise, Texas. Very small town and very small school. Population of the town, in those days, was 385. I doubt it is much bigger now. At that school, we had lunch ladies who actually cooked the lunches. There was none of those convenience foods and fast food kiosks, in those days. You either ate what they cooked, brought your lunch, or did without. Anyhow, once a week, we had vegetable soup, homemade cornbread, and made from scratch dessert. I always looked forward to "soup day". I loved that soup. It was such a simple meal but to me it was the best!
We moved a lot during my childhood and I attended many schools, all over the country, but none of them provided food like Mt. Enterprise Elementary. And nobody ever made soup like that. I decided, once I was old enough to cook, that I would figure out how to make that soup, myself. I made a lot of soup. I added lots of ingredients to the pot. I tried everything I could think of but couldn't get it right. One night, many years after I had began my search for the perfect recipe, I got side-tracked as I was making the soup. I came back to the stove and couldn't remember where I had left off. I remembered putting salt and pepper in but no other seasoning. I tasted what I had in the pot and it was PERFECTION! I had accidentally discovered the recipe for the soup of my school days!
Mt. Enterprise was my favorite town, still is. I still call it my home. The school was my favorite school and that soup was my favorite soup. I knew there wasn't a better name for my recipe than, "Elementary School Soup".
Elementary School Soup
a pound or two of hamburger meat (more or less)
a bag each of frozen corn, green beans, carrots, and english peas
a couple of cans of diced tomatoes
a couple of pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks.
one large onion, skinned and roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, brown the hamburger meat and onions. I like my onions browned...seriously browned. Once the meat and onions are done, drain off the grease. Don't rinse the meat because you will rinse the flavor out. Put the meat back in the pot, add the potatoes and enough water to cover. I usually put in enough water that there is a couple of inches above the meat and onions. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer until potatoes are about half way done. Add the other veggies and diced tomatoes. Continue to simmer until the veggies are done and the soup is a nice orange-y color. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with fresh cornbread. Put a slice of American cheese on top of your bowl of soup. It is even better that way.
That's it! Simple, simple. You can use fresh veggies or even canned ones. When it gets cold outside, I put this on to cook in the morning and we eat on it, all day.