The other day, I wrote a long, drawn-out explanation of how I've recently let my cold-and-flu-ridden family eat all manner of weird, unbalanced and nutritionally questionable meals, but now that they have finally start to mend, I'm boosting their recovery with that magical healing elixir, homemade soup.
And that sounds like a neat and happy morality tale, in which Mommy (once again) saves the day.
Sadly, I must update my story with this startling news: there has been a relapse. Over the weekend, a fresh wave of germs made the rounds and you know what that means.
Yep. I was back to serving my patients vanilla ice cream at midnight, and pretending that waffle fries, ranch dressing and ketchup constitute a balanced dinner.
Several boxes of Kleenex later, we seem to back on track. Enter my beef vegetable soup.
Sirloin or round steak, cubed
One medium onion
2 T olive oil
4 C mixed vegetables, raw, frozen or canned
3 C vegetable broth
2 C tomato sauce
^ 1. Let's be honest. I rarely use exact measurements when I cook. They are far too restricting for me. I much prefer to work with whatever I have on hand, and find a way to make it work.
So consider this portion of beef sirloin. These two pieces were left over from a value pack I'd bought earlier in the week, and they looked suitable for a kettle full of soup.
No weighing. No measuring. No calculations whatsoever.
I just whacked them up into bite-size pieces, along with the onion, and tossed them all into the pot with the oil, over medium high heat.
^ Brown, my darlings!
^ 2. In the meantime, I sorted out my veggie line-up.
Again, no measuring. No calculations. But I did do a bit of strategic shopping.
Here's the thing. Many homemakers will tell you that a soup like this one is perfect for using up odds and ends of leftovers in the vegetable bin. If they can get away with that, more power to them.
But my daughters are old enough, and my husband is skeptical enough, to watch out for these "Let's use up all the leftovers" dishes, and steer the heck away.
So I have learned to cover my tracks.
Yes, I confess that I did select some aging residents of my vegetable drawer and nominate them to play a role in this soup. Specifically, the carrots, broccoli and mushrooms have been around the block a few times.
But in order to throw the detectives off my trail, I brought in two fresh, new faces - the green beans and the asparagus. They are particular favorites around here, and I theorized that their appearance would distract attention from their less-glamorous companions.
My family also gets suspicious of frozen or canned veggies. So I steer clear.
Once the cast of characters has been sorted out, slice and dice them to appropriate bite-size bits. My preference for a rustic chop leads me to relatively large and delightfully irregular but I realize that isn't everyone's cup of tea. Or soup.
^ 3. Once the veggies are chopped, I put them in matching white bowls and took a moment to admire them.
Well. Actually, there is no reason on earth to perform this step. I could just as easily pile all the cut bits into a heap on my cutting board or plop them into one big bowl, all mixed together.
But I love how each individual color and texture looks so happy when set off by the perfect white geometry, and I find this process to be so pleasing that I just do it for fun.
Try it sometime. Be weird like me.
^ 4. Okay back to the real steps. When the meat looked brown/edible, I threw all the veggies into the pot, along with the seasonings. Then, one cup at a time, I began adding the vegetable broth and tomato sauce.
Alternating back and forth between the two, I simultaneously watched the increasing level of the liquid in relation to the heap of veggies and meat.
^ I stopped adding sauce and broth when the pot looked like this. There's enough liquid to make all those simmering veggies happy, but no more than necessary.
Just say no to watery soup.
^ 5. Alright, now it's simmer time. A half hour on low heat with an occasional stir will get the job done. Better yet, make it 40 minutes and squeeze in an old episode of Supernatural.
^ 6. Serve up small but hearty bowls of soup with a bit of crusty bread. If my recovering patients are feeling extra cooperative, I might slip a small bit of fruit onto their plates to complement this nourishing meal.
But if they ask for Nutella and marshmallows to garnish the bread, I am going to have to say no.
* * * * *
If you're in the need of some more healing remedies, I've got the cure:
* * * * *
For more stories about my carb- and sugar-free eating adventures, read: