BARBARA MCCLELLAN

Barbara McClellan

“Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Mark Twain gets credit for this quotation, perhaps mistakenly, because it seems that his friend and collaborator, journalist Charles Dudley Warner, is the one who first wrote this in an editorial for the Hartford, Connecticut, Courant newspaper on Aug. 27, 1897.

It is certainly the truth almost all over Texas this weekend and into next week. Our local newscasters try their best to give us plenty of notices and warnings about this sub-freezing weather, because it is for sure a rarity in East Texas, and it appears that we simply do not know how to handle it. My solution to part of this dilemma is to layer clothing and keep soup on hand.

It is going to take the entire column to tell you about my soup creation or invention this week. You know that some of the best recipes it seems, were serendipitously found. OK, here goes. Warning:

If you do not like vegetables, go on to the Obits section (which you know we all check first thing), because this contains at least 18 vegetables, maybe more.

This makes a lot and can be reduced in proportions. But because of so many vegetables, it is hard to make just a little bit. Freeze it in small containers, share it with friends and neighbors, but give it a try. Omit or add any vegetables as desired.

Versatile Vegetable Soup

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

2 or 3 cloves of garlic or 1 heaping teaspoon of prepared garlic (great product, in a jar in produce section)

1/4 cup olive oil or cooking oil

Sauté vegetables in oil until they are soft, using a large stew or soup pot, 6–8-quart size

Add:

3 cups water

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice

1 can (10 ounces) chopped tomatoes with chilies, with juice

3 tablespoons vegetable broth base (or paste)

1 tablespoon seasoned salt

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

Simmer for 45-60 minutes.

1 medium purple top turnip, chopped

1 small sweet potato, chopped

Simmer for about 15 minutes.

Begin to add frozen, fresh, or canned vegetables:

10-12 ounces packages of frozen soup vegetables (2 or 3)

Mixed vegetables, 2

Baby lima beans, 1

Sliced okra, 1

2 or 3 Fresh zucchini and yellow squash, sliced

1 can (15 ounces) red kidney bean, drained

Cook, simmering for about 20 minutes before squash and beans are added. Cook about 15 minutes longer.

Add salt and pepper to taste, cook covered, and may need to add more water for about 10 minutes.

OK, you have finished soup #1. There are no pungent or distinctive spice or herbal tastes. I like the mixture and tastes of just the vegetables.

Now, here goes the kicker version, which we thought was super. I think we had version #1 for two nights, then I upped the game and here goes what was added for the zippy version #2, using the first as a base.

Into medium saucepan, place 3 cups original soup. Add:

2 cups V-8 or vegetable juice

1 additional teaspoon seasoned salt

2-3 teaspoons of fine herbs (a mixture of many common herbs, dried and finely chopped, should be added just before serving or Herbes, de Provence (a mixture of herbs usually found in Southern France cooking) or a bit of this and that from every herb you have in your cabinet (only things you like).

Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Adjust for salt and pepper. Makes at least 24 servings.

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— Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist. Write her at bayrm12@gmail.com or in care of the Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606