This is soup the way my grandmother always made it. It truly doesn’t get any more frugal than this. Nanny kept a bowl in her freezer into which she would put all of her leftover vegetables.
When the bowl was full of peas, carrots, beans, potatoes, or whatever else she had handy, it was time to make soup. I often save leftover bits of pot roast for my soup, too. This household would revolt if I served a meal without meat! But this dish is very filling, and doesn’t require much, if any, meat at all. I also had some leftover kale, which I shredded and tossed into the pot. There are no rules here.
Now, because I love barley and lentils, I add about a cup of each to thicken the soup. That’s my twist on an old family favorite. You could add corn, rice, or whatever else you fancy. I sometimes add pasta, but you’ll want to do this in the final 10 minutes of cooking. Otherwise, it will be a soggy, mushy mess.
I buy my grains online in 25 lb. bags and store them in inexpensive 2.5 gallon buckets available at the hardware store. (Wash them well and choose ones that are opaque! Also check the number on the bottom. It’s important to make sure it’s a good quality container. Read this for more info. ) There are many sites that sell grains online, and because I cannot find a local source, I choose to order them from Bob's Red Mill. I’ve been very pleased with my purchases:
hard red wheat berries
whole oat groats
apple cinnamon & grains hot cereal (which is a family favorite!)
They also have many different kinds of beans, flours, cereals, and the like. Check them out!
I fill the pot up with water and throw in some herbs and spices. Most of the time I use thyme, garlic, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, and some onions to season the soup. But it truly depends on my mood. A little white wine is good if you have it. I don’t always. And a tablespoon or two of butter or extra virgin olive oil is also nice. Then, cover the pot and let it simmer for 2-3 hours.
Easy as pie. (This saying has always irked me – pie is not the easiest thing to whip up. Getting the crust right takes some effort!)
And it’s tasty, too. Cornbread makes a fabulous accompaniment.