Rod has had to cut many of his favorite snack foods and quick meals from his diet — dried fruit, peanut butter, and eggs are now off the menu leaving us with the need for a way to have a quick snack or an easy meal available at a moment’s notice.
After several weeks of experiments that were either not terribly easy or not terribly appetizing, we tried soup. I vaguely remembered reading stories about the pot of soup perpetually on the back of the old wood stove and we decided to give it a try.
Two weeks in, we are finding that not only is it low-effort, it’s also delicious and because it changes every day, it never gets boring. I figured that I’d share our solution. Everyone needs easy, quick, nourishing options, after all. I don’t think it will work for vegetarians, though you might be able to get the right culinary effect using dried kelp instead of bones..
So, this is how we make perpetual soup:
Roast one pound or two of meaty soup bones until they’re cooked.
While they’re roasting, slowly saute an onion, a few cloves of garlic, and some celery in a few tablespoons of clean fat (I like olive oil) in a soup pot. When they are soft and translucent, fill the soup pot half full of *cold* water. Add the marrow bones and a tablespoon of lemon juice. When the soup bones are ready, add them as well. Bring the water temperature up slowly to a boil then reduce the temperature and simmer the stock for a couple of hours. If you want to add any dried vegetables, this would be the time to do it. (I like dried mushrooms and sea vegetables.)
Next, chop a little of every non-cruciferous vegetable you have in the house into bite sized pieces. We like onion, garlic, carrots, beets, jicama, winter squash, celery root, lambs quarters, fennel, spinach, leeks, and parsnips. (And I sometimes cheat and use rutebega, daikon, and turnip — but you *must* keep the temperature low if you do that. Overcooked brassica lets loose an awful sulphery smell that no one will want to eat.)
Toss the vegetables into the soup and let them cook very slowly. If you want to add more meat, that’s yummy, too. When the vegetables are soft to your taste, you’re ready to have your first taste. About five minutes before you serve it, toss in some dried herbs in to the pot. If you like onion and garlic powder, you can add them now, too.
OK, so far that’s just soup.
What makes it perpetual soup is that you leave it covered on the stove at about 170 degrees. Help yourself all day. After serving the soup, add enough water to replace what you’ve taken out. Leave it covered on the stove over night.
Next morning, you’ll find that the vegetables have just about disintegrated. Bring the soup stock up to a boil for a couple of minutes, while you raid the vegetable bin. Chop the vegetables up into bite sized pieces, then lower the temperature under the stock back to a simmer and put in the vegetables and another tablespoon of lemon juice. If you use a different variety of vegetables every morning, the soup will be a new feast every day. (This is a good time to wander through the produce section picking up vegetables you’re not in the habit of preparing.)
When the vegetables are soft, your soup is ready to face the day. Bon apetit!
We have been keeping our soup going for a week at a time, and on the last day, the cruciferous vegetables and tomatoes go in for a totally different effect. We finish that up, and start it all over again.