Saturday, January 9, 2010

Saturday Night Veggie Soup

I've been under the weather this week and made the impressively mature decision to stay home on Saturday night, hoping upon all hopes to get rid of my lingering cold. Instead of the usual bar-hopping, I entertained myself by cooking something warm, soothing and healthy. Kingsley and I both received "Bon Appetit, Y'all" by Virginia Willis as a Christmas gift this year. It's a beautiful Southern cookbook that honors Willis' native Georgia and her family. Willis called her maternal grandmother "Meme." Like most Southern grandmothers, Meme apparently cooked a mean vegetable soup. Willis swears by it, and now, so do I.

Aside from the tomatoes and butter beans, all of the ingredients are fresh. In her book, Willis says that her family always used to eat this soup in the winter, using the vegetables they had canned or frozen that summer. She calls for a ham bone (seriously Southern) to create the base of the soup. I had a hard time finding one, so I substituted with a smoked turkey wing, which worked well.

This soup was really easy to put together, had major flavor payoff and made me feel better. Plus, I purchased everything I needed for just $25 and ended up with about 10 substantial servings - an Affordable Foodie dish for sure! Check out the recipe below and don't forget to serve it with biscuits or corn muffins.

Meme's Southern-style Vegetable Soup


1 smoked turkey wing or 1 ham bone, with some meat on it
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
1 sprig of thyme
6 cups of water
1 (15-ounce) can tomato puree
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can whole tomatoes, with juices
2 cups frozen butter beans, thawed
1 onion, preferably Vidalia, chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 carrots, sliced into thin rounds
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Scraped kernels from 4 ears fresh sweet corn (about 2 cups)
1/4 pound fresh okra, stems trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (optional)


1. In the largest pot you have, place the turkey wing (or ham bone), bay leaves, thyme and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to low and simmer until the broth is flavorful and fragrant, about 1 hour.

2. Add the tomato puree, whole tomatoes with the juices, butter beans and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking on low heat until the butter beans are just tender, about 30 minutes.

3. Add the carrots, celery, potatoes, green beans, corn and okra. Continue cooking until the vegetables are tender, about 30 additional minutes. Remove the bay leaves and thyme. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.

NOTE: I ended up with way more veggies than broth. No problem - I simply added some leftover beef broth that I had in the fridge toward the end of the cooking process until I was satisfied with the consistency of the soup. Chicken or vegetable broth would work just as well.


  1. Y'all need to try her shrimp etoufee with the rice cooked in an oven in that cookbook- it is so delish! Hope you feel better Kara!

  2. Outside of the narsty legumes, it looks delish! I shall demand Elisha prepare it for me!!!

  3. We will definitely try the etouffee soon! Thanks for the suggestion. Thanks to the soup, I'm on the road to recovery.

  4. Good point, Casey #1 - if you're not a fan of legumes of any kind, feel free to eliminate the green beans and butter beans and add more of the veggies and potatoes.