AKA vitamin soup

Eat more fresh veggies, everyone says.

Well, there’s a problem with that. I don’t want to prepare and cook six different vegetables for one meal; and if there’s just two in the household, like ours, I don’t want to buy a huge variety to cook a little at a time and have them go bad in the fridge before I can get to them.

I think I’ve found the perfect solution. Since George and I love soup, I decided to make a big batch of vegetable soup, using almost as many vegetables as I could get, paying no attention to whether they supposedly go together. I also wanted a hearty,

Beef femur bones, in a pot of water, ready to make wonderful broth.

Beef femur bones, in a pot of water, ready to make wonderful broth.

healthy broth, and that’s when I remembered an article I read recently read about the benefits of bone broth, full of that life-giving marrow that primitive people instinctively knew to suck out of the bones.

My first stop at the grocery store was the meat department, where I asked a young butcher whether I could find beef bones.

“You want them for soup, or for your dog?” he asked, heading for the meaty soup bones and ox tails in the display.

“I want them for the marrow, for broth,” I said, and he got a sly little grin on his face.

“Then you want femur bones,” he said, switching direction and pointing to a refrigerated section with big, nearly bare bones. “They’re supposedly for dogs, so they’re cheaper, and”–he picked up a package–”you’ll get probably half a pound of marrow from this package.”

I thanked him, thinking to myself that there was a time when a person could get bones for free and the grocery store was glad to be rid of them. I also shuddered at the price I saw on those ox tails: $4.49 a pound. Good grief, hamburger is cheaper than that. But that’s another story.

Some of the fresh veggies that went into the soup.

Some of the fresh veggies that went into the soup.

Then I rounded up some veggies, leaving out things other people might add automatically, like corn and tomatoes. No special reason, just personal preference.

Back home, I put the bones in a pot with plenty of water and set them to simmering for a couple hours. Eventually, I used a knife to scrape out what marrow hadn’t melted into the mix, and removed the bones. Later, I’ll leave them in the woods for little critters to gnaw.

Then, I started cleaning and chopping veggies: celery, turnips, parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, potatoes, rutabagas, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, onions and spinach (added at the very end when the soup is no longer cooking, so it simply wilts. The sweet potatoes tend to sweeten the soup a bit, so if you don’t like sweetness in a soup, leave them out.) While I chopped, I set some pre-soaked black beans to cook, adding them at the very end to provide protein.

And of course, the herbs. I have some hanging in my kitchen that I grew this past summer, so I crumbled sweet basil, parsley, sage, a little lemon thyme and some crushed red pepper flakes, and added salt and pepper to taste and a few bay leaves.

Now, with a simple bowl of soup, I have the vitamins from 14

Ready to serve: tasty, nutritious, economical "vitamin soup."

Ready to serve: tasty, nutritious, economical “vitamin soup.”

different vegetables as well as the vitamin-rich bone marrow. We can have a bowl of soup all by itself for a light supper, or add crackers, garlic toast, or even half a sandwich. We can have this as the vegetable with an otherwise meat-and-potatoes meal.

Best of all, we can feel just a little smug about finding a tasty, one-stop way to get lots of vegetables into our diet.


About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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