Survival Stew

me and mom 1951

Me and Mom in 1951

My mother, may she rest in peace, was like most folk who grew up poor and hungry in Appalachia in the 1930’s always very frugal. To the day she died (in 2012) she was embarrassed by her childhood and worried about whether her cooking, housekeeping and personal appearance were good enough. As a consequence, she was a great cook, a beautiful woman and meticulous housekeeper. But more importantly, she always took care that every meal she prepared and served was delicious, wholesome, and made with love. And she never, ever, let on that in the early years of my life we were very nearly as poor as she had been. I remember one meal in particular — fried potatoes and brown cream gravy on toast. We thought it as a feast, never knowing that she when we ate it four nights a week it was because Dad’s foreign duty military paychecks were late in arriving (again) and that she had bought the potatoes and bread on credit at the local market. She was that good. I finally figured that out when I was a young mom and shopping had to wait until the next payday. In my case, the meal was called “Survival Stew” and I made it from whatever left-overs, fresh vegetables and cans of tomatoes I had in the pantry. My sons loved it, and my eldest still makes it and shares the “recipe” with his friends. Now a days when I am blessed to have more than I need, I still make the soup when I am feeling especially stressed out, frustrated by life or just plain sad. Today I am a bit of all three and making it in memory of Mom. Just smelling it on the stove is a reminder of the continuity of human experience, the goodness of life, and all the folks in every age who have stand over a soup pot, cooking whatever they have with love and gratitude. ~ Glyn

Today’s Version
2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 tsp chopped garlic
2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups chopped butternut squash
1 cup sliced carrots
1 can kidney beans
1 can (15 oz) can chopped tomatoes 1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen chopped kale
2 cups water
4 herb-ox vegetable bouillon cube
basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup savory sauce (soy, tamari, etc)
1/4 cup dried pasta (optional)

1 Saute the onion, garlic and celery in the vegetable oil.
2 Add the remaining ingredients, stir well and bring to a boil,
3 Reduce the heat, and simmer for one hour.
4 Adjust seasoning and serve with muffins of biscuits or crackers.
Servings: 8
Degree of Difficulty: Very easy
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/8 of a recipe (16.8 ounces).
Recipe Type
Gluten-Free, Soups, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

survival stew

This entry was posted by Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk.

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