Make Do IT'S COLD OUT Soup

I have a sore throat. It’s 15 degrees F out (-9 degrees C). It’s the afternoon and already winter dark. I want soup.  Homemade soup. The pantry looks bare, but it’s not. There’s wilted celery in the vegetable drawer. I trim off the the outside ribs (into the compost pail for the chickens!) and find crisp leaves. They get washed and chopped. There’s a lone onion in the pantry, leftover from making latkes for Hanukkah. I pull out a bulb of garlic, a gift from my next-door neighbor who grows it. Both get peeled (into the compost pail!) and chopped. I find a few carrots that I pulled from my garden three months ago. They’re getting a tad hairy, but are fine once peeled. There – what I’ve found is enough to make soup. I pour a glug of olive oil in a saute pan and set the vegetables to cook on low heat. I’ll cook them until they turn golden. This step is not to be rushed. Soft, but clear veggies won’t do. When the color deepens, you’ll be able to smell the aroma change from sharp to sweet.

I have one container of home-made chicken stock left in the freezer. I turn the crockpot on high and put the broth in to thaw. What else? I rummage around in the freezer and find a bag of green beans that I blanched and vacuum-sealed this summer. There’s dried lentils and a can of diced tomatoes in the pantry. I find the dried-herb mixture bought in Rome last winter. Good sea salt. All into the crockpot!

Two hours later, this is what I have. After I ladle it into a bowl, I’ll top it with a dollop of goat cheese. I feel warmer already.



  1. Your soup looks very appetizing. You must be an excellent cook. I also cook well. I was even willing …. hmm.
    Ginger is very good for sore throat.

  2. With the exception of what looks like noodles, I think you’ve made what we call Brunswick Stew here in the South. Years ago, I sent a case of Mrs. Farnow’s (brand) Brunswick Stew to my sister who now lives on Long Island. It was tasty reminder of her childhood in North Carolina, where her younger brother (me) continues to live. BTW, my wife and I now have 5 backyard chickens – what fun!

    • I know! I’m not a vegetarian. Farmers can’t afford to keep older hens that are no longer productive egg layers. I have no problem consuming them as broth, just as I am fine eating chickens raised in humane environments. It helps the grower keep his/her farm, and it makes final use of an animal, that would otherwise be thrown out. Many chickens from CAFOs (factory farms) are simply dumped in pits. Of course, my own little “farm” isn’t economically viable (and I don’t try to be) and old Eleanor spends her days sitting in sunny spots and not laying a single egg :)

  3. Here is an idea for beef vegetable soup. My grandmother always used Allspice Balls to add a little extra/different flavor to her soup. Place the balls in either cheese cloth or one of the fancy wire mesh balls and let it simmer with the vegetables. You don’t want them freely floating around because if you happen to bite into one you ruined your taste buds for the rest of the day.
    This is one of those things that needs to be done with a conservative touch as the allspice can over power all else in the pot. I use a pot that hold approx. 10 quarts and I start with 8 balls and taste and add as I go.
    Try it, I think you will like it.

    Terry, I do make stock with my spent hens, you simply cannot beat it.
    As you know, I have my pets (Wrongway and Whichway for example) but I always remove 8 – 10 hens from the flock each fall and replace in the spring with new chicks. I prefer white rocks or buff orphantons as dual purpose, for eggs and then meat birds after two years of age.

    • Ken, you’re the perfect example of how it is possible to take loving care of one’s animals, and yet also make full use of them as they were bred to be used. I think the fewer chickens one has, the harder it is to make them into soup.

      • Terry, your correct, the fewer the harder. I have a very mixed flock (just like I want it) and the reason I go for one breed like the white rock for eggs and then “soup” birds is they basically look the a like and it’s harder to make pets of them.