“Even Better the Next Day” Soup
I’m settled in my winter doldrum. The temps have dipped from mostly bearable (even though I’d be pleased to live somewhere where it rarely snows and dips below 40) to freaking freezing with wind. My dad used to say “what are you gonna do when it gets really cold” when we would complain. I think about that today and chuckle because well, dad, I live in Minnesota and the joke really is on me. I feel like I can pull that out with a smartass grin on my face someday. Not that Indiana is that different from southern/mid Minnesota when it comes to seasons.
The wind is the worst. Or it could be the ice that recently formed after a thaw then freeze in our backyard, front yard, side yard, sidewalk, etc. Taking the dogs out is not much fun because I get to walk like a penguin over the ice-covered stone patio where I imagine myself wiping out, going unconscious and dying from the cold. So, I am not an ice fan.
Maybe I’ve mentioned my story about falling under the bus from our driveway when I was young? Where my little hands clung to the bottom step trying to pull myself out? My sisters and I would desperately search for a rock sticking out of an all-ice covered gravel driveway to put the toe of our shoe against. Our only hope. The driveway sloped down so you could easily and pretty much every time lose your footing. If the bus got close enough, you could kind of throw yourself towards the door and get ahold of the rail then pull yourself in. Once in the bus, you had to grab the seats one-by-one to prevent slipping and falling in the aisle since the water had froze there making entry a hilarious scene for others to watch and cruel for newcomers. The driver would start quickly while we were still in the aisle and falling was inevitable. Ripping your adorable, thick tights also happened during some of these scenarios so you’d have a reminder all day of the event and your sweet elementary school outfit would be ruined.
Guess I have a lot of issues with buses.
Childhood is the best. But I do hate ice thanks to these and other memories. Another would be when I was in highschool, on my way to a bus of course (a bus that was going to take my show choir friends and I on a weekend trip to a competition near Chicago), I pressed on the break at a ridiculous light that always changed on Hwy 24 in Indiana near Huntington when I came to it. Instead of stopping, my car (which had its share of problems) decided to spin and spin until I was partially in the ditch. Black ice. Once my eyes stopped being googly I went right back on my way and waved to the gentleman who had stopped to see if things were alright. I knew how to drive in winter with my lightweight, front-wheel drive car and was embarrassed a dumb light and black ice almost took me out. Had a blast on the trip. Still loathe and fear ice.
Childhood, adolescence and young adulthood were pretty good when grandma (and mom) made “honky soup.” Yes, a derogatory term for white people. It was my Great Grandma Walker’s recipe. I started to call it something else years ago but honky soup just sticks. I’m not offended. Even now really trying to think of something else to call it and I’ve got nothing. It’s not just vegetable soup. It’s not just hamburger and potato soup. Maybe I’ll call it “even better the next day soup” because that was said every time we made it. But it’s good the same day too. With crackers or buttered bread (or buttered crackers as my grandpa liked…he was on to something). Simply made with Pork and Beans (VanCamps is my choice and I think grandmas too), some tomato juice (say V8), potatoes, hamburger, veggies and salt (seasoning salt for me). Those few things make an awesome soupy-stew. It gets nice and thick and the flavors blend and it tastes even better the next day…hence the new name. Cheap and can feed many…hence the original name most likely.
“Even Better the Next Day” Soup
1 lb. ground beef (not too lean)
salt and pepper (I use seasoning salt)
1 large can of Pork and Beans (about 40 to 45 ounces)
1 large can of tomato juice (like V8 and about 60 to 64 ounces)
1 medium onion, diced
5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced (optional-not part of the original recipe)
crackers or bread or both for serving (with butter)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the potatoes, celery and optional carrots. Cook until softened slightly then drain and set aside. Meanwhile, cook and brown the hamburger in another large pot with some salt (or Lawry’s seasoning salt) over medium-high heat then add the onion and cook until softened. Add a good dose of ground pepper. Add the cooked veggies to the hamburger pot. Pour in the Pork and Beans and tomato juice. Watch for splishy splashies. Simmer for about 20 minutes then it’s ready but as the name says, it’s even better the second day.