Mom's Vegetable Soup #CooktheBooksClub #FoodiesRead

In the beginning this book was a complete slog and I questioned whether or not I would continue reading.  I had to continually remind myself that the book was written in the 1940’s and that the author’s scornful remarks toward housewives came from a different era, with different expectations.  But still, it raised my hackles.

From then, the author moved on to how terrible America and American foods are. *sigh*

Finally, he moved on and wrote about his own youth in Tuscany.  But not fancy villa Tuscany, poor Tuscany.  And his life after immigrating to America and starting his own garden.  There were still many moments when he comes across as a pretentious jerk, but it’s easier to handle.

Thankfully, the book was also inspiring (in the kitchen, at least).

I decided to make my mom vegetable soup for a whole host of reasons.  First off, it was cold and dreary and I was feeling a bit under the weather, so soup sounded heavenly.  I also wanted to make it because it’s a family recipe - the generational ties felt important while cooking from this book.

In the book, the author wrote briefly (and unenthusiastically) about cabbage soup over polenta (a dish served before moving to America).  He also mentioned the diet of the immigrant or country folk being big on vegetables (especially leafy greens), low on meat, and able to stretch to feed a crowd.

He also impresses the importance of fresh, homegrown (when possible) herbs, vegetables, and fruits for optimal flavor.

This vegetable soup hits all those points.  There are tons of vegetables and just a bit of meat.  While I couldn’t grow the vegetables myself (the high temperature of -12 and the 2 feet of snow saw to that), I was able to utilize some farmer’s market vegetables I had frozen and purchased other seasonal ingredients at the grocery store.

I am also linking up to February's Foodies Read Challenge, hosted by Based on a True Story.

Vegetable Soup

3-4 quarts water
1 beef soup bone (about 1 lb)
1 whole carrot
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
4 allspice berries
1 tbsp salt

1 small head red cabbage, shredded
1 small bunch kale, shredded
3 large carrots, diced
3 small potatoes, diced
2 stalk celery, diced
4 small beets, peeled & diced
2 cup V-8 juice or 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

Heat the water in a large stock pot.  Add the beef bone, carrot, onion, bay leaf, all spice, and salt.  Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours.

Remove beef bone (removing any edible meat and placing it back in the soup), carrot, bay leaf, and allspice.

Add the remaining vegetables plus tomato juice (or sauce) and simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  Serve with a side of crusty Garden Herb Bread.

Serves 6-8


  1. Nice to know that he considered himself unprejudiced!

  2. I just started the book last night after finishing up Killer Angels for our Book Club CookBook CC. So far I have only read the prologue and introduction.

  3. This is on my to-do, but I think it might not make it off the shelf till March.

  4. Finally squeaked in at the last minute. I simultaneously loved and loathed the book. Loved the food. Loathed him.

  5. I think it is indeed important to keep in mind that when he wrote the book and what the social situation was at the time. I am glad you found the book inspiring in the kitchen. And great choice of recipe for all the reasons you list. Thank you so much for contributing to Cook the Books.

  6. At least you got a good potful of yummy soup out of the deal. I didn't care that much for him either.

  7. Love the veggies and he allspice! Glad you slogged your way through the book.

  8. Although the1st half of the book was tough reading I loved his unstructured. Approach to recipes and his any ideas for using the fruits of the lichen garden .

  9. He definitely had some strong opinions and no issue with airing them ;-) but I did like the cooking and recipe ideas tucked into the book. Your soup has such great color from the beets and I love a good, nourishing veggie soup made all the more special by the family and generational ties.


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