Everything-in-the-Pantry Soup

The term “cold” is indeed relative.  Knowing that snowstorms are sweeping across much of the country as I type, I hesitate to complain too much about the weather we’re experiencing today in Southern California.  But let me just say, at 61 degrees and foggy, it’s amazing that the roads haven’t been shut down.  Based solely on the number of puffy vests, fur jackets, and UGG boots I’ve seen today, you would think we were in the middle of an arctic freeze.  It’s really a miracle people can leave their homes at all. The good news is that you don’t have to though, because I have the perfect winter stew and you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry, if not freezer.  Even better, it will only take about 20 minutes to prepare, plus another 20 simmering on your stove.  Of all the meals I cook in our house, this one consistently gets the loudest cheers when I announce we’re having it for dinner, and it also just so happens to be one of the easiest to make.

Finely chop a medium yellow or sweet onion and saute in a large pot with olive oil over medium-high heat.

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When it becomes translucent, add 1 pound of ground turkey or lean beef.  Cook together until the meat is brown.  Turn off the heat and, using an oven mitt, tilt the pot to one side and soak up any extra fat with a paper towel (you may need to use a few).

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Return the pot and the meat to medium heat.  Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and, this is very important to the flavor of the soup so do NOT omit for some silly diet, one tablespoon of white sugar.  Stir together with a cup each of finely chopped celery and carrots.  Add a pinch or two of salt and a few dashes of ground black pepper.  Let cook for a few minutes.  Add 1 can of beef broth, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and 1 cup of V8 Juice, and 1 baking potato peeled and diced into small cubes (larger cubes will take longer to cook).  Then add the following vegetables, either one can or roughly half a frozen 8 oz. bag each of peas, green beans, and corn (I prefer white corn).

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Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potato cubes can be pierced easily with a fork.

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When you’re ready to eat, spoon into soup bowls and sprinkle with cheddar cheese and a healthy dollop of sour cream.  I actually prefer the store brand and I use 2% cheese and reduced-fat sour cream, but to each her own.

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I happen believe that other than hunger, the best accompaniment to any dish is a nicely set table (oh, and a good glass of wine).  Why not light the candles on a cold Tuesday night?

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Hands down my favorite part of making this soup?  The smiles on these boys’ faces when dinner is served.

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Don’t make it a big deal.  Use what you have in your pantry and/or freezer.  Beef broth can be substituted with chicken broth, Bloody Mary mix will work in lieu of V8 juice, use red or sweet potatoes instead of a baking potato…you get the idea.  I have made many impromptu modifications to this soup over the years and it always turns out delicious.  That said, here is the original recipe:

Everything-in-the-Cupboard Soup

1 lb. of lean ground turkey or beef

1 yellow or sweet onion, finely chopped

1 cup of carrots (finely chopped)

1 cup of celery (finely chopped)

1 baking potato (peeled and diced into small, 1/2 inch cubes)

1 can of green peas (or a cup or so of frozen)

1 can of green beans (or a cup or so of frozen)

1 can of corn (or a cup or so of frozen)

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 cup of V8 juice

1 can of beef broth

1 tablespoon of white sugar

Olive oil

2 cloves of minced garlic

Salt & pepper

Cayenne pepper

Saute onion in a large pot in olive oil over medium-high heat.  When it becomes translucent, add 1 pound of ground turkey or lean beef.  Cook together until meat is brown.  Turn off the heat and, using an oven mitt, tilt the pot to one side and soak up any extra fat with a paper towel (you may need to use a few).

Return the pot and the meat to medium heat.  Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and, this is very important to the flavor of the soup so do NOT omit for some silly diet, one tablespoon of white sugar.  Stir together with a cup each of finely chopped celery and carrots.  Add a pinch or two of salt and a few dashes of ground black pepper.  Let cook for a few minutes.  Add 1 can of beef broth, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and 1 cup of V8 Juice, and 1 baking potato peeled and diced into small cubes (larger cubes will take longer to cook).  Then add the  peas, green beans, and corn.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potato cubes can be pierced easily with a fork.  Spoon into bowls and serve with a dollop of sour cream and a generous sprinkle of sour cream.