All-Day Vegetable Soup

photo of a pot of soup
All-day Vegetable Soup

I first ran this on Labor Day 2010, and it’s time again for it this year. At the height of the growing season, visiting the farmer’s market with all its shapes and colors and people and languages and sounds and smells, and gathering herbs and vegetables in the quiet of my own garden, then the afternoon of organizing the ingredients, cleaning and trimming and chopping, stirring things in the big pot, the slightly steamy windows and the scents filling every area of the house seems to set the tone for autumn on our first cool day as the leaves begin to change.

I long ago finished the last container from the freezer from last year’s pot of soup. I’m looking forward to taking out a container of harvest freshness in the dark of the coming winter.

I make All-day Vegetable Soup on the first cool Saturday in the fall with the freshest vegetables from my garden or the farmer’s market if I’m out of something. A big pot of soup simmered all day tastes different from a small pot of soup cooked an hour or two. Think of our ancestors, not so long ago even, who cooked huge vats of soups made from what was on hand to feed large families, simmering over the fire all day so the flavors would blend but the vegetables keep their shapes without overcooking to mush, and it preserves well frozen or pressure canned too.

It’s also a great day to make bread because it will rise beautifully with the steam and warmth from a big pot of soup. Where just a few days ago you were dripping sweat with intense summer heat, suddenly it’s cool, feeling cold, and possibly raining (as it is here today) and for the first time in the coming cooler season the kitchen windows will steam up; you’ll probably need to open a window to let some moisture out of the kitchen, and you feel that sens of security that comes with being warm inside when it’s cold outside.

Use the big canning pot that holds five gallons of liquid, add two gallons of stock you’ve made over the summer from simmering vegetables, or just use plain water. Assemble your vegetables, and don’t worry if you don’t have everything on the list. Use what you have—one zucchini and three yellow crookneck squash? Fine. Use what you like—don’t want beans in your soup? Leave them out.

A note before you begin: Collect all the vegetable and herb trimmings, peels, skins, cores, whatever, and at the same time or later you’ll simmer those in filtered water in another stock pot to make a few quarts of vegetable stock to use for another pot of soup or other recipe that calls for vegetable stock.

Add, to taste:

  • garlic (I use a whole head)
  • onion, white or yellow, one or two large ones
  • six stalks chopped celery, reserve tops for later
  • 3 lbs. chopped tomatoes
  • four cups chopped carrots
  • four cups chopped potatoes
  • four cups green and/or yellow beans snapped in 1-inch sections
  • whole small head of cabbage or half large, chopped
  • four cups sliced zucchini or other summer squash
  • fresh corn kernels from four ears of corn
  • four cups fresh peas
  • four cups chopped broccoli
  • four cups chopped cauliflower
  • anything else you have on hand: turnips, parsnips or other root crops, brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, mustard or other greens whatever you want in your soup
  • two cups of dried beans, can be all the same but I use a little of each kind of dried bean I have in the kitchen: kidney, pink, great northern, navy, lima, etc.
  • chopped fresh herbs like parsley, tarragon, thyme

Boil stock.

Reduce to simmer—and remember: “simmer” is the operative word all the way through.

Add dry beans.

Add chopped vegetables one by one, beginning with the firmest, like carrots, and ending with the greens.

Simmer at least four hours past the last vegetable added.

Add chopped fresh herbs and celery leaves, simmer one half hour more.

Let sit, covered, for at least an hour, preferably to.

Eat several bowls.

Let cool completely, which can take hours depending on how much you made.

Can in pressure canner or freeze in freezer containers.

Open a jar in January and remember summer.

Recipe “All-day Vegetable Soup” Copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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