“W e l l . . . . . now where did that corn come from?”, my father-in-law Art would always ask. Or, it might be the melon I served at breakfast he might ask about. He wanted to know where it was grown. Perhaps how far it traveled. “They grow some nice melons by the river in Beardstown”, he would add. He was raised in Southern Illinois though he would call it Central Illinois. It was south to me!! It was farm country, and Art was raised on the family farm. This is where the grain bins line main street and the one restaurant in town serves some of the best fried chicken you’ll ever eat.
In his adult life Art was a gardener. The best. The best tomatoes, and spinach, cucumbers and peppers and the only sweet corn I’ve ever eaten that popped when I bit into it and sent juice to the one sitting next to me! “Now that’s some corn!”, he would say as we all reached for seconds! Absolutely! The best!
I think that Art had wonderful food memories. The kind where families gathered around the table and food was grown locally, mostly in your back yard or down the street. Strawberry picking in Spring, cleaning peaches in late Summer. Canning tomatoes. His greatest joy (when his hands weren’t in the dirt) was when we were all gathered around a table of his homegrown
vegetables. . . . his people . . . .his table . . . . the fruits of his labor. These are some of my happiest memories of Art. Sometimes he would tell us stories, about the wild turkeys or the Kramer Cows or his nephew Bill, a fisherman in Alaska . . . . and always, we would eat. Fresh. Homegrown. Together.
I think Art would like this Summer Soup . . . most certainly he would like the story that accompanies it!
So two weeks ago I was in Florida visiting my friend Cynthia (aka my second mom)! One evening while we were talking food, she got her recipe book out and shared of this amazing soup that came her way over 33 years ago. The woman who gave it to her was an acquaintance who once worked at the Chicago Stockyard Inn and Restaurant. Apparently, they were known for their food, and most especially their soup!
Now Cynthia’s been making and enjoying this soup for all of these years . . . . but as we discovered when we Googled the Inn, the recipe can now be found online as well!! Hmmm . . . . must be good I thought – and I’ve got one of the older copies! It’s stained and torn, and even has a hole in it, but it’s written out long hand with small ‘notes’ next to the ingredients. I feel like I have a small piece of food history. Cynthia and I laughed as we realized this recipe has been circulating a long time, but only to a select few before the world wide web!
I know it’s Summer and most of us tend to tip toward soup as Fall approaches, but it’s been a cooler August here in Chicago and just about every ingredient in this soup can be found, right now, at the Farmer’s Market! I couldn’t resist!
So in addition to sharing this recipe, Cynthia and I also shared a few Pina Colada’s, mango’s picked from a local tree, breakfast seaside and Key Lime pie . . . . . as we have for so many years . . . . and laughs, and stories and Joy around the table. These are some of my food memories . . . . and I’m feeling so blessed to have them all! It’s been a season of many wonderful and new food
experiences . . . . I can’t wait to share!
I used a couple of small Soup Bones found by a vendor at our local market . . . .
Chopping veggies!! The onions, garlic, carrots, green beans, cabbage, sweet corn and kale were all grown locally! I love that . . . .
Here’s the soup just before the kale went in!
2 1/2 – 3 lbs lean bone in pot roast (Or soup bones with meat), cut into several pieces
1 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery tops, chopped
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup green beans, cut in 1″ slices
1-2 cups cabbage, finely cut
2 cups loosely packed kale, finely cut (not too small)
2 ears sweet corn, kernals removed (raw)
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes, cut & mashed into small pieces
1 1/2 cans beef broth
1/3 cup pearled barley
2-3 tsp salt, per preference
1 tsp pepper
1. In large pot heat olive oil and add the meat and soup bone(s). Cook until just brown stirring occasionally.
2. Add the onion, garlic and celery tops and saute until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Add 2 quarts of water, the salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on very low heat until meat is tender. This time will vary – approximately 2 1/2 hours.
4. Remove the bones and clean them of any remaining meat. To the soup add the beef broth, celery, carrots, cabbage, corn, tomatoes and barley – and allow to simmer for 30 more minutes.
5. Next, add the kale and season additionally to taste.
Prep Notes: The original recipe calls for 1 cup of diced potatoes. Preferably red as Idaho potatoes fall apart in cooking. For no particular reason other than I had PLENTY of fresh vegetables lining my counter, I decided to lean heavy into these and leave the potatoes out. Also, the recipe I have calls for spinach but kale was what I found at the market so that’s what went in and I gotta tell you Mick couldn’t stop picking it out of the soup!! You can add a box of frozen peas if you like, but I really wanted this to be a Farmer’s Market medley and so I doubled the sweet corn and added extra cabbage instead. And finally, the woman who gave this recipe to Cynthia would add 2 cans of Chicken broth – but the flavor of the natural broth from the soup bones I used was so amazing that when I discovered I needed additional liquid I reached for beef instead!
Mick’s final thoughts . . . “You’ll make this again mom, sometime soon, right!?”
Recipe Inspired By: Chicago Stockyard Inn and Restaurant
Vegetable Beef Soup
For Art . . . . . .
with love, and so many wonderful memories of life around the table . . . .