Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Beth Merriman's Cookbook...From Soup to Nuts" - Winter Soup

Date I made this recipe:  January 30, 2013

Beth Merriman’s Cookbook…From Soup to Nuts – Published in Association with Parade Magazine
Published by:  Grosset & Dunlap
© 1968
Recipe:  Winter Soup – p. 9

Whew – saved by the bell!  It’s a rare event for me to cook something every week during a given month but I did it, sneaking in this recipe on the next to last day of January.  I am so proud.

These days, these long winter days, my sole purpose in life is to stay warm.  January weather in Minnesota has been a yo-yo:  one day, we’re at 35 degrees, the next day we are at 5.  This pattern has continued for the entire month and it is driving me crazy.  The only solution is to adapt my cooking to the weather and so, dear reader, last night I made soup to combat our latest cold spell.  That said you have no idea how tempting it was to make “Frosted Meat Loaf” instead of soup but since the book’s title is From Soup to Nuts, I thought I should stay on track. 

Beth Merriman, a 20+ year columnist for Parade Magazine, also wrote The Fondue Cookbook, The Fondue Party Cookbook (is there a difference??!), The Anytime, Anywhere Barbecue Book and The Home Kebob Cookbook:  the Complete Guide to Kebobs From Main Dishes to Dessert.  I do believe I need to get my hands on that kebob book, if for no other reason than the title makes me laugh. 

The thing that I appreciated most about this cookbook is that it doesn’t contain any “weird” food like tripe or pig’s feet, something I’ve been seeing all too often as of late.  Instead, it features the basics like roasts, meatloaf, soups, sandwiches, casseroles, etc.  One of my favorite recipe titles, besides the Frosted Meat Loaf (and just so we’re clear, the “frosting” is mashed potatoes), and Buckaroo Short Ribs is Hootenanny Sandwiches – peanut butter, cream cheese, deviled ham, pickle relish and bread.  The ingredients earn an “ugh” from me (peanut butter and deviled ham????) but the title is indeed a “hoot!”  Side note:  years ago, I was browsing in a bookstore and saw this vintage paperback titled Hootenanny Nurse, published in 1964, that I just  The title alone was worth a snort but the cover photo is hilarious – there’s a nurse in her “dress whites” leaning on a wall watching a doctor in his “dress whites” playing a guitar!  I did not care one whit that it wasn’t a cookbook.  To see the cover and a description of the book, click on this link:  My favorite line from this book has to be (as seen on this blog):  “Julie walked as fast as she dared down the hall, pressed the elevator button, and hoped on the brief ride that she still had a bit of lipstick on.” Julie, I couldn’t agree more about the lipstick and in fact stress about it all the time.

One final note:  When I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, my library’s shelves were filled with every variation of “nurse” story you could get your hands on:  School Nurse, Ski-Slope Nurse,  Jungle Nurse – you name it, we read it.  Back then, women became nurses, teachers or secretaries – all good professions but thank goodness women have branched out.

Anyway…this soup is really good (and just loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C) but it does take a while to make.  The meat has to simmer for 2 hours, then you add most of the ingredients and cook for another 1 1/4 hours and then add the final ingredients and cook for another 15 minutes.  Had I not started this dish at 3:00, we’d be having it for breakfast.  On the other hand, the fact that I could simmer and ignore it for hours at a time meant that I could work on reviewing a commercial lease for a client; multi-tasking is a great thing!

My one little itty-bitty gripe about this recipe, as usual, is my need for specificity with ingredients, instructions or both.  This recipe calls for 1 can tomatoes and okay, fine, but what kind?  Whole?  Diced?  Stewed?  And then should I drain the can?  Not drain the can?  I hate when this happens.  I decided to buy diced tomatoes, pour off only the top liquid and add them to the soup and it was fine (but do add the kidney beans undrained as directed).

So, while you are at home waiting for the spring thaw…in about 3 months…make this soup and get comfy.

Winter Soup – makes 8 to 10 servings
2 quarts water
1 medium onion, quartered
1 tablespoon salt
¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 ½ lbs beef chuck (Ann’s Note:  I used beef stew meat)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups sliced carrots
1 can (1 lb) tomatoes (Ann’s Note: I used diced)
1 can (1 lb) kidney beans, undrained
¼ teaspoon oregano
½ cup pastina (Ann’s Note:  pastina is star-shaped pasta.  If you cannot find that, then use a small macaroni for this soup.  I used alphabets!)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine water, quartered onion, salt, pepper and beef in deep kettle.  Bring to boil; lower heat; simmer 2 hours.  Remove beef; strain stock; measure; add water to make 2 ½ quarts.  Dice beef.  Heat oil in skillet; add sliced onion, garlic, parsley, and celery; cook 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Return diced meat to stock; add contents of skillet, cabbage, carrots and tomatoes.  Cover; simmer 1 ¼ hours.  Add kidney beans, oregano and pastina.  Cook 15 minutes longer, or until pastina is tender.  Stir in cheese; mix well.  Serve at once.

 **I purchased this book at Kaleidoscope Books in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Fun store - check it out if you are in the neighborhood:  200 N. 4th Avenue. (The world-famous Zingerman's Delicatessen is nearby.)

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