Pioneer Soup

Here is a story: Sallie has no stove. That’s right. For over a week and yes that includes the week of Thanksgiving we have been living stove-less. This is what happened. – we ordered a new stove November 8th from Lowe’s. It had an induction top and that was exactly what I wanted. It was to be delivered early Wednesday the 23rd so that Tuesday we had our old stove disconnected and the gas line capped. Then an email arrived saying delivery would be between 4 pm and 8pm – not acceptable for Thanksgiving cooking. We were celebrating the day at my sister’s home and so my cooking involved mostly sides- dressing, macaroni and cheese (weirdly the kids’ favorite dish), sweet potatoes, and a pie. I was not feeling good about this. We bought a two burner hot plate at Walmart early Wednesday morning – desperate times…..

Amazingly it worked (quite slowly) for everything but the pie (baked elsewhere). So, the truth is that we have been living like pioneers for the past week – well pioneers that live near a Walmart. The stove is still not here and the excuses from Lowe’s are beyond ridiculous, but I won’t let them bring me down. The 2-burner hot plate menu tonight is Vegetable Soup with a small treat.

There is a bit of leftover steak in the freezer and a few little slices plus a splash of red wine will make this dinner seem not so humble. Here is the good news you can and should make this on a real stove, but I always say – use what you have.

This is an anything goes recipe. The veggies are traditional, but I love to add barley – an homage to my mom who always did the same. It seemed so exotic when we were young – no one in my grade school bragged about eating barley for dinner. Herbs are a choice too – I like a bay leaf oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, and the tiniest pinch of curry powder – the secret ingredient that makes this yummy, but no one can figure it out. A last-minute splash of balsamic vinegar gives that little bit of acid that will tease your taste buds. Add steak or not – your choice. Biscuits would have been great – but not possible with a 2-burner hot plate. We can’t wait to get our new stove but no one here is starving. Make this for a chilly night or rainy day. Enjoy!

Vegetable Soup – with a Surprise


1 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery sticks, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2-3 smallish Yukon gold potatoes, chopped ( no need to peel)

2 Tbsp tomato paste

½ cup red wine

2 cups broth (use what you have)

28 oz can tomatoes (San Marzano is so good)

Green beans – about a cup, chopped (canned is fine)

1 cup corn – fresh or frozen

1 cup frozen lima beans

¼ cup barley

Herbs of choice – start with a tsp each – oregano, basil, add a bay leaf and a few red pepper flakes.

Optional – ¼ tsp curry powder

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar or lemon juice

Optional – thinly sliced steak


Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat.

Add olive oil, onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until softened.

Add garlic and potatoes and cook 2- 3 minutes more.

Add tomato paste and stir for a minute – add wine and stir to deglaze pan.

Add broth, tomatoes, green beans, corn, lima beans, and barley.

Stir in herbs and seasonings – taste to see if you want more.

Let simmer at least 30 minutes.

Stir in vinegar or lemon juice.

To serve with steak – cut steak into very thin slices and put in the bottom of each soup bowl.

Pour hot soup over and enjoy!!!

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