My Mother's Cooking - Homemade Soups (Chapter 8)
My Mother's Cooking - Homemade Soups
My mother's Cooking
Chapter 8 – Homemade Soups
When my mother prepared soup, it was not destined to be served as the first course of a meal - it was the meal. All of her soups contained either noodles, dumplings, rice or potatoes. They were thick and hearty and along with homemade bread or rolls, constituted an entire meal.
Her meatless soups all dated back to her early years growing up on a poor potato farm in North Central Wisconsin. They generally only ate meat on Sunday, and during the week, they had to make do using eggs, dairy products and whatever they could grow in their garden or can. Most of my mother’s soups that contained meat were developed by her later in life, after she married my father.
1. Meatless Soups
My mother’s meatless soups were built around things that were grown in their garden when she was growing up. Potatoes, tomatoes, beets and pumpkins were all available and were prepared with whole milk or cream. The potato and pumpkin soups were always thickened with egg drop dumplings while the beet soup had homemade egg noodles.
Boiled rice was generally used to enhance the tomato soup. Her vegetable soup contained whatever vegetables were available in our garden with the addition of some pasta. Meatless soups were generally served on Fridays when the Catholic Church still practiced abstinence.
2. Soups Made with Meat
When my mother made these soups, she generally started with a meaty soup bone or a whole chicken. A leftover ham bone was ideal for making bean, pea or lentil soups. Ground beef provided the meat flavor for her chili mac. She would cook the cut up chicken or whatever soup bone she was using until the meat was ready to fall off of the bone.
Then, she would strain the meat from the liquid and cut it into smaller pieces after cooling. In the case of chicken, she would generally pour off the excess fat from the broth after cooling. Today, for beef soup, I frequently start with leaner meat and a couple of boxes of the appropriate soup stock which is readily available.
3. Egg Noodles and Dumplings
For chicken soup and beet soup my mother always added her own homemade egg noodles. She would cut them into thin strips and add them directly to the simmering soup shortly before they were ready to be served. For potato soup and pumpkin soup, she would make egg drop dumplings by dripping a beaten egg into a plate of flour while stirring. This would form many small irregular dumplings, which along with the excess flour would thicken the soups. You should quickly get the hang of this technique once you try it. Feel free to try any combinations, which appeal to you.
A. Meatless Soups
- Potato Soup
– Made with cubed potatoes, onion, cream and egg-drop dumplings seasoned with allspice.
– Similar to the potato soup except a little sugar and cinnamon is added to give it a touch of sweetness.
– Similar to the pumpkin soup but instead of cinnamon, a little vinegar is added to give it a sweet-sour taste and homemade egg noodles replace the egg-drop dumplings.
- Tomato Rice Soup
– Made from fresh tomatoes that are peeled and cubed. Then the seeds are strained out, cream and boiled rice are added, and it is seasoned with salt, basil and a touch of sugar.
- Vegetable Soup
– A mixture of corn, tomatoes, beans. Squash, onions, and whatever other vegetables are available, seasoned with garlic and herbs with a little pasta added.
B. Meat Soups
– Normally made with a leftover ham bone, two different beans, onions and thyme.
- Beef Barley Soup
– Made with beef soup bones, barley, onions, carrots and celery with a chopped tomato added.
- Chicken Noodle Soup
– Originally made from chickens that we raised our self. It contained onion, carrots, parsley, celery and homemade egg noodles.
- Chili Soup with Macaroni
– made with ground beef, kidney beans, onions, garlic, green peppers, tomatoes and chili powder. Shell noodles or elbow macaroni was often added.
- Made with a ham bone, split peas, onion, basil, allspice, carrots and sometimes with dumplings and other vegetables.
– Made with beef soup bones, lentils, onions, garlic, celery, carrots and tomatoes.
C. Noodles and Dumplings
– Made fresh and added directly to simmering chicken or beet soup.
- Egg Drop Dumplings
– Used to thicken and enrich potato soup and pumpkin soup.
Links will be provided to recipes for each of these soups as soon as those hubs have been completed.
How to Make Beef Stock
How to Make Chicken Stock
Sweet Corn Vegetable Soup
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North central Wisconsin where my mother grew up.
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