Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Soup Post (again)

Every year or so I re-post the Soup Story.  For a long while, it was the most popular post on my blog. If you've been around a while, you know it.  You can read the story HERE.  

Cliff notes version: 

My grandma made a navy bean soup.  Her Mom made a navy bean soup.  My Mom made the soup.  There was no recipe since my grandmaw(s) could not read or write- they just threw it together.  My Mom typed it up for a contest entry and won.  Her recipe along with the story behind it is published in John Folse's cookbook, "Something Old, Something New."  She received a free copy of the book.  To promote the book, John Folse's show called and wanted to come tape a show in my Mom's kitchen making the soup.  She said no.  They called again.... she still said no.  

Anyway, Clint asked me yesterday if we had any beans and he was going to make The Soup.  Ironically, yesterday evening a friend posted in a cooking Facebook group looking for a white bean soup recipe.  Of course I said I had a good one and shared my Mom's "famous" recipe.  

"This isn't how my Mawmaw did it."

" no cabbage and no other stuff, its a white bean soup. not veg"

"do not use celery, my mom never uses that stuff"

" (name) is right I use leftover white beans I use a onion tomato sause a little bit of noodle some chunk hamvery easu at the end u can put a little green onions tops if u like don,s put all those veg it a beansoup"

Who knew a recipe could be wrong?  Why be so negative?  Really??  (Nevermind that you can't type or spell.) My Grandma was about as Cajun as you can get, grew up dirt poor, and learned to cook with whatever she had on hand.  Just because it is not the way YOU make it, doesn't mean it is wrong.  People can be so rude.

My Mom's is better anyway.  Ha.

Navy Bean Soup
1 pound dried navy beans
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup diced potatoes
1 cup chopped cabbage
1/2 cup elbow macaroni
2 cups diced ham
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
black pepper
hot sauce (optional)

Method: Rinse the beans under cold running water. You may wish to soak the beans in cold water overnight to cut the cooking time by one-third. Place beans in a large cast iron dutch oven and cover by two inches with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook approximately one hour or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Add onions, celery, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, macaroni and ham. Blend well into the bean mixture and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may need to add water to retain desired consistency. Add green onions and parsley. Season to taste using salt, pepper and hot sauce.

Note: When stirring beans during the cooking process, mash approximately 50% of the beans, pressing with the cooking spoon against the inside of the pot. This will give the navy bean soup a creamy consistency.

My Mom's (embellished!) story behind the recipe:

"Since my grandmother and mother were unable to read or write, recipes would have been of little use to them. So they cooked the way people before them had cooked, back to the dawn of time, I suppose. They cooked from memory. When you think about it, that's really quite a skill. You have to remember every ingredient of a recipe and how the end product tastes. It also means keeping a mental catalog of herbs and spices and their effects on flavors so accurate that you can add the proper amount without resorting to measuring spoons or cups. Of course, after a while everyone learns to cook their favorite dishes from memory - as I do this one. But imagine having to do it every time! This, by the way, is the 'special' version of mom's soup - the one she fixed as a treat when we had leftover ham. In the everyday version, she used salt meat."

Joyce B. Russell
Morgan City, Louisiana

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