Aunt Mary B.'s Vegetable Soup

My Aunt Mary B. was a wonderful woman, but she had her secrets. At one of her last family reunions, I asked her what the 'B.' stood for in her name; she hesitated, frowned, then bent forward and said in a gravely voice, "Bell. Now would you rather people call you 'Mary B.' or 'Mary Bell?'" I smiled (thinking neither one), but agreed that 'Mary B.' was preferable. My mom got her secret recipe when we visited her in Louisville, KY, and she has been making it for me since I was about two years old. There is usually a pot of it in her refrigerator; I call it, variously, Mary B.'s Soup and Mary B.'s Vegetable Soup, as I either avoid the tough stew meat altogether or leave it in the bottom of my bowl.

My husband loves her soup and groaned when I told him I was making a vegetarian version: "Why can't you just leave things alone when they're good; why do you always have to fiddle?" His verdict, however, was three servings the first night! This recipe adds more heat than the original and a spice that I'm sure my Aunt had never heard of, but it's good and you don't miss the meat.


Aunt Mary B.'s Vegetable Soup, Revised


1-3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, sliced thinly & chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 long hot green chili (thai, bird's eye)
3 new potatoes, chopped
~ 1/2 small pkg. crimini mushrooms
1/2 cabbage, sliced thinly
vegetable stock or broth
(I used Vegetable Base mixed w/ 3 c. water)
1 can chopped tomatoes, 28 oz.
1 can tomato sauce, 8 oz.
~ 1/2 c. frozen peas
approx. 1/2 t. Panch Puran
1 - 2 dried red chillies, broken (optional)
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

* Place a Dutch Oven on medium-high heat and add olive oil. * Add carrots through onions and cook 5 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. * Add garlic and green chili, cooking till garlic begins to brown. * Add potatoes, crimini mushrooms, and cabbage and cook two minutes. * Add vegetable stock/water plus base and cook 15 - 30 minutes, partially covered. * Adjust heat if necessary. * Add chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce and cook 15 minutes. * Add frozen peas and spices and cook 10 minutes.

This soup comes together much faster when not made with meat and marrow bones, although it's more work with fresh vs. frozen mixed veggies. Fresh is my preference, however; sorry Mom, you can tell the difference! Be sure to taste as you go. If using a soup base as I did, you may not need to add any salt, and after adding the green and dried red chili(es), you may not need any crushed black pepper. *** Also, this soup "feels right" when the cabbage slices are cooked down to translucent, so get them in early with the vegetable stock. (A better option to get the cabbage just right for this soup is to cook it in water for approx. 30 minutes in a separate pot, then add it to the soup. I will do this next time.)

Aunt Mary B.'s Soup is my entry for the No Croutons Required blog event ... the first I've ever been part of thanks to Holler's invitation. It is hosted this month by Lisa, of Lisa's Kitchen and next month will be hosted by Holler, of Tinned Tomatoes. Both of these wonderful sites have been on my blogroll almost since I started this little adventure.


Thanks Mary Bell. :D