Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mom's Vegetable Soup

This was a family staple every year on New Year's Day. We'd all bundle up and go to South Philly for the Mummers Parade. Mom would always have tons of food for everyone back at my grandparents' house, which was only a block away from the parade. After standing outside in the cold watching the parade go by, this soup was exactly what we all needed to warm up. It's another one of those delicious old school "all day" recipes, so make this on a Sunday afternoon when you're at home doing laundry or planning for the week ahead.

1 beef shin bone (or shank)
1 ham bone (or ham hocks)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 large bag frozen mixed vegetables
2 potatoes peeled and diced
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
water ("till it's enough" - you can add more if soup gets too thick)
pot herbs
1/2 cup barley

Combine all ingredients except barley and cook at least six hours over low heat. About one hour before it's done, add barley. Serve with fresh rolls and butter.

As I said before, Mom always said that the key to any really good soup is putting some sort of bones in it and letting it cook for a long time. She used to say "Just throw everything in the pot and let it cook." It doesn't get any more basic than that, right?
So anyway, apparently once upon a time, you used to be able to purchase a bundle of mixed herbs simply labeled as "pot herbs". I wasn't able to find that, so I just threw in a bunch of herbs (specifically thyme, parsley, oregano, and bay leaves).
When you add water to the pot, be sure to add enough so that the bones are covered. Just like Mom always said, "til it's enough". I usually just fill up the pot about 2/3 full. This recipe lends itself to adjusting the amount. If you want to make a lot of soup, use a huge pot and a lot of vegetables. Seriously, you should have seen the pot that Mom used to use. Huge! I guess she figured, if you're gonna make soup, then make it worth the time! If you don't need as much, just use a regular stock pot.

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