Saturday, September 3, 2016

Dump Vegetable Soup

This week I canned vegetable soup.  It was the best vegetable soup I have ever tasted and that's saying a lot.  My tomatoes are exceptionally tasty this year.  Is it the weather, the varieties or Mother Nature?  It's nothing I did and the varieties are ones I've raised before.  Whatever the reason, I know they are perfect for soups.
Large cooking pot on the left - water bath canner on the right

I use a very large pot for cooking ingredients for canning.  It's made for canning with a thick bottom, fits the big burner on the stove and cleans relatively easy.  Since I usually make my vegetable soup with whatever is available, I seldom measure anything.  I've done it so many times, I know how much seasoning to add to the level of foods in this pot.

One key to flavorful vegetable soup is to use fresh ingredients.  I had my own tomatoes and green bell peppers.  I purchased the rest from a farmer's market.

The amount of liquid in this recipe will depend on how many tomatoes you use and how long you cook the mixture.  If it cooks down too much, add water or meat broth.

Since I started with some chopped smoked ham, this recipe had to be processed in a pressure cooker to get the safety factor in place.  If you don't use meat or meat broth, you can process in the water bath (40 minutes.)

I'm not going to use exact amounts because you will use what you have but I'll try to describe how it looks in the pot and why.  Experienced cooks will understand.

First I sprayed the pan with PAM cooking spray.  I always do this in hopes of not having anything burn and stick to the sides - making clean up easier.

I started with about 1/4 cup of olive oil, heated but not smoking.

I added two cups of chopped smoked ham cubes.  Immediately added 6 medium onions, chopped in medium sized cubes.

All vegetables are in medium sized pieces because I don't want them to go to mush and loose their individual look (and taste.)

Add 6 medium carrots, chopped.  I use quite a lot because it sweetens.  6 stalks of celery including the leaves; chopped.  2 bell peppers, cored - seeded and chopped.  Let this mixture fry enough to smell the flavors but not to actually cook through or brown.

While these are cooking, prepare the next ingredients.  Peel and chop ten medium potatoes.  I use Idaho because they hold their shape.  Snap a pound of green beans into thirds.  Cook corn on the cob and cut off, including scraping for the milk.  I also chopped a hand full of Chinese cabbage - it adds a slight peppery taste.  Add these to the pot.

Peel and core tomatoes, adding to the soup.  Use as many as you wish.  I used enough to double the other vegetables.  Add 2 cups of water or meat broth to get it started.  Stir, bring to a boil and stir to keep from sticking and then simmer.

Add 2 cups sugar,  Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste.  I know some folks don't want any of this but the sugar brings out the tomato's own sweetness and the salt is necessary for a flavorful soup.  Unless you want to change the flavor of this soup, don't substitute or delete the seasonings.

This soup should only cook to get the potatoes fully cooked but not mushy.  Once that's done, it's time to put into hot sterilized jars, seal and process in a pressure cooker for 40 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.

If you raise herbs, consider adding parsley, rosemary, thyme or any of others that you love.  Fresh basil looses some it's flavor in the canning process although I usually throw some in anyway.  Garlic, chives and leeks can go strong or do nothing.  I tend to leave those out of preserved products.

This recipe is a "dump" recipe so use whatever you have at the moment.  Any kind of beans and peas are good and add lots of nutrition and color.   If you don't eat meat products, the beans are an excellent way to get some of the protein you need.

Hot peppers may be added but consider that the entire batch will be flavored to that extent.  Same goes for hot spice seasonings (cayenne, pepper sauce, chili) and cilantro.

A quart jar will give two large servings of soup.  If your soup is thick, add liquid at the time of re-heating and it will go farther.  The liquid can be water, V8 juice or meat broth.  Some experts recommend always cooking canned food (when re-heating) to boiling and for an additional fifteen minutes to eliminate the chance of food poisoning.  I've never had food poisoning from my canned food but that's not to say it isn't good advice.

With any dump soup, it's always fun because every batch will have a different taste and consistency.  The ingredients will vary as will the results of different varieties of vegetables.  This is a good thing.  No chance of getting bored with anything.  

Have fun canning vegetable soup - it will be a winter time blessing.

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