Survival Stew

survival stew

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 great 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, too, 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 when we ate it four nights a week that 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. 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 stand over a soup pot, cooking whatever they have with love and gratitude. ~ Glyn

Today’s Version
1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained
2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 tsp chopped garlic
2 cups diced potatoes
1 cup sliced carrots
1 can kidney beans ( or any canned bean you have on hand)
1 can (15 oz) can chopped tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups water
4 herb-ox vegetable, beef or chicken 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 and drain the ground beef. Set aside.

2. Saute the onion, garlic and celery in the vegetable oil.

3. Return the beef to the pot. Add the remaining ingredients, stir well and bring to a boil,

4. Reduce the heat, and simmer for one hour.

5. Adjust seasoning and serve with muffins of biscuits or crackers.

Servings: 8

Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/8 of a recipe (17.3 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients. 2 of the recipe’s ingredients were not linked. These ingredients are not included in the recipe nutrition data.

nutrition survival stew

Recipe Type: Gluten-Free, Soups, Vegetables

This entry was posted by Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk.

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