Farm to Table to Tailgate

My guest on the “Farm to Table to Tailgate” episode of Indiana Home Cooks is Mary Ann Haan, a friend I’ve known for about eight years, but I feel like we grew up together. We were both raised on Indiana farms and we know now, as we all come to understand, that farm life is experienced differently by children and adults. Mary Ann and her husband Jeff have spent their entire lives on the farm, raising their own family there.

I saw my future beyond the farm and took a different path. Still, living in Kansas for twenty years and the rest of my life here in the Hoosier state, I’ve had much contact with people in farming. And with those contacts there is also a connection, a bond perhaps, that we share. Call it rural, small-town, country…it infuses the fabric of our lives and is certainly a permanent mark on our being. Sitting in Mary Ann’s warm welcoming kitchen, I was reminded again we share that bond, and with it, many similar memories!

When everything’s in the pot.

The cooks Mary Ann and I grew up watching–our moms, grandmothers, aunts, neighbors–for the most part did things the old-fashioned way, which for them, wasn’t old-fashioned, it was simply the way. And some of their techniques have been rediscovered by home cooks today. Maybe rediscovered is not the right word. Perhaps acknowledged is a better description. One of my favorite cookbooks is Virginia Willis’ Bon Appétit, Ya’ll! Ms.Willis is a French-trained chef who grew up in Georgia, and she traces similarities between many classic cooking techniques and the down-home way her mother and grandmother cooked. Good is good, after all. We know that browning and braising are the best way to turn an economical cut of beef into something mouthwatering and sublime. Our grandmothers knew that too.

Here is my vegetable beef soup, as given to me by my mom. It’s simple and fairly quick, and an easy recipe to adjust to your preferences. You can hear how I prepared it “live” on the podcast here.

Susan’s Mom’s Vegetable Beef Soup
(About 6 servings)
1 lb ground beef
Chopped onion & celery (about 1/2 cup of each, or more if preferred)
Chopped carrots (2-3, depending on size)
Chopped cabbage (about 1/3 head)
1 15-oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinse
2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes
1 32-oz box beef broth plus 1 cup water
Basil oregano, dried, 1/2 tsp each
1 bay leaf
Salt & pepper to taste (generous amount of pepper is advised; taste before adding salt)

Brown hamburger in large stock pot or dutch oven. Add onions, celery, carrots as you get them chopped. Allow meat to cook undisturbed for several minutes so it sears and sticks to the pan somewhat. Be careful not to burn! Drain fat from mixture. Add about a cup of broth to pot and let it begin to cook and loosen the bits stuck to the pot. Scrap those up into to liquid. Put meat, vegetables, and all remaining ingredients in the pot and bring it up to a simmer.  Allow to simmer about an hour.

After cooking about an hour. Yum!! Get the ladle!

Note: It’s fine to add the chopped onion, celery, and carrots to the pot while the ground beef is browning. Those vegetables do not have to cook through during this step. But combining them with the meat at this stage helps build more flavor into the dish. So if those veggies are still firm when the beef is finished cooking, that’s fine. They’ll cook the rest of the way as the soup simmers.

Author: Susan Mintert

I'm an Indiana home cook and host of the Indiana Home Cooks podcast, where we share the stories of people who cook, eat, and drink in the Hoosier State.

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