I did it because for more than 30 years I've put up with an abdominal disease that continues to rear its head and has twice erupted into emergency surgery. The painful malady erupted again just after Thanksgiving of 2010 and I spent 5 days in the hospital. Over the years, my doctors have ordered every invasive test they could think of and for the most part everything appears normal. At least to them. But I know my body. And I know something is still wrong.
Since my granddaugher, in her twenties, started having the same symptoms as I did at that age--and has had all those humiliating tests herself (only to be told she's normal), I've decided to do what she did. First she went vegetarian, but she still doubled over in abdominal pain minutes within eating. I know exactly how that feels. Then she tried vegan. No more pain. She's been vegan for a few months and tells me all the abdominal pain is gone.
Am I crazy about giving up my critter portions? No, I'm not. Would I try anything to be done with the constant abdominal pain? Absolutely. So come along on my journey. I'll blog what I do and you can comment on things I do wrong or should change or should re-think. I'm hoping we can be partners. You see, one day a week won't cut it for me. For my health's sake, I'm going to have to make it a life choice. It will be so much more fun if you join my parade.
I thought for quite a while about where to begin. Thank God I've loved vegetables since childhood. It was WWII and with everything rationed, our family ate out of our garden. Dad raised chickens and pigs so there was always meat on the table, but the bulk of our meals consisted of whatever was ripe in the large garden out behind our house. And since dad allowed no fussy children at the table, we had to eat what was before us or go hungry. Back then, everyone consumed what was available at the time and thanked God there was food set before them.
Debating about how to start became easy for me when my sister and brother-in-law drove into town for a visit and during our chatting, my sister told me about this great soup her hubby makes. It sounded so delicious I started drooling to the point where Sis had to grab three paper towels to catch the flood. My brother-in-law, knowing that I hate to cook only slightly less than my sister, agreed to start the soup pot going. Since he likes being in the kitchen and Sis and I don't, we left him to his chef thing while she and I solved all the world's problems in one afternoon. Does it ever get any better than that?
In the bottom of a soup pot, place 2 Tbsp. oil of choice (we used olive); 1 medium onion, chopped, 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced. Saute until the onions become somewhat translucent.
In the meantime, cut any vegetables you have on hand into bite size pieces and place them in a small bowl. We used 6 small red potatoes, 4 carrots, 2 celery stalks, 1 1/2 cups green beans, about 6 stalks of asperagus and 2 fresh plum tomatoes that looked like they'd better be eaten today or thrown out tomorrow.
Add all the veggies to the stock pot along with 1 cup of vegetable stock and cook on medium to low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
Add 2 (16 oz) cans of diced tomatoes. We used one can with jalapeno and one with basil. Add 1 can undiluted tomato soup (mellows out the acid of so many tomatoes).
Add the spices. We used 1/4 tsp. cumin, pinch of celery seed, 1/4 tsp. marjoram, 1 Tbsp. dried parsley (because we didn't have fresh), salt and pepper to taste.
Stir all the ingredients until they are mixed well and set the covered pot on a back burner with the heat set low. We let ours simmer about an hour in order to give the spices and veggies time to marry. Just before serving, squeeze a bit of fresh lemon into the pot. It will brighten all the flavors, yet the soup won't have a citrus taste. We served our soup with a garden salad and hot french bread brushed with garlic infused olive oil.
Our recipe made about 2 quarts. The soup was the perfect consistency for us, but depending on how you like your own soup, you can add more stock or remove the lid and let the soup cook down to thicken.
My mom always made her own version of this soup and called it the "Clean Out The Frig" soup. She'd toss in whatever was garden ready, along with any leftover corn or peas or whatever had been uneaten during the week, thus making each pot of this soup distinct in its own way. Her soup didn't contain so many tomatoes, but I liked my brother-in-laws version down to the last drop.