comfort

Lately I’ve been thinking about the foods my maternal grandma cooked a lot when I was small. I haven’t had any of them in years, since I wasn’t able to visit her regularly after the age of 11 and she passed away the day after I turned 20. She was always a big one for clipping recipes from newspapers and magazines and tinkering with them. One summer when I was 8 or 9, she tired of sifting through all of her clippings and decided that she would hand-copy all of them onto lined notebook paper and keep everything in a three ring binder. She worked on it for weeks, and she let me copy a few as long as I promised to use my very best penmanship. The result was a two-inch binder crammed full of recipes that mom inherited last year when grandpa finally sold the house.
When the weather turned cold up here, I started thinking about some of the recipes that I particularly remembered. Enough time has passed, I guess, that I can begin to cook these dishes. So I called home and mom got the big binder and rummaged around in it. I copied the recipes down as she read them over the phone. It would have been more efficient to scan and email them, but it somehow seemed more right to do it slowly, by voice and pen, over the phone.
Last night I made the first one, Cabbage Patch Soup, tinkering all the while to adapt it to my spicier tastes. It came out very well. With the big pan of cornbread I made to go alongside it, it’ll last for a few days. Here’s the recipe, in case you’re wondering.
1 – 2 pounds stew beef*
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large anaheim pepper, chopped*
3-4 cloves garlic, minced*
1/2 cup celery, chopped
Brown the above in an appropriate amount of olive oil. I browned the beef separately in two batches, deglazed the pan with stock, and dumped the results into the soup pot. Then add:
4 cans beef stock*
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans with liquid
1 can chili beans with liquid
2 cups cabbage, shredded
fresh-ground pepper*
sea salt*
Hungarian paprika*
Chili powder*
I drained the liquid from the beans, added it along with the stock, tomatoes and seasoning, and let the whole thing simmer for a couple of hours. Then I added the beans about an hour and the cabbage about a half-hour before serving. It’s a good winter soup, full-flavored and hearty.
*The original recipe calls for ground beef instead of stew beef, bell pepper instead of anaheim, pre-ground pepper, iodized salt, and doesn’t include beef broth, garlic, paprika or chili powder. There was a time in my life when I would have made my own stock and then soaked and cooked the beans from scratch, but now is not that time. Plus, being that purist would have ruined the spirit of a recipe clipped from the newspaper, I think.

Addendum: For more on dealing with stew beef, see this post.

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One Response to comfort

  1. Lauren says:

    That sounds yummy. I think I might make it with the original ground beef – I love ground beef in soup.
    Grandmothers make the best comfort food, don’t they?

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