Saturday, April 18, 2015

Mixin' It Up with Recipes on Saturday!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Recipes today because we're having a chat tomorrow. Saturdays are usually super-busy at my house (probably at yours, too) and thus a great day for throwing ingredients into a crock pot in the morning and forgetting about it until dinner rolls around. 

Today, I'm making soup, because 1) it's still cool enough to be welcome in the evening and 2)

I'm going back to Nantucket for five days!!!

The snow is probably gone by now.
Yes, The Best of All Possible Agents (TM), upon hearing me moan and whine about the lack of progress on the book, suggested another family-free writing retreat might be beneficial. Since this coming week is school vacation in Maine, and Ross will be available for driving/shopping/laundry/cooking, I can go. Please understand, I love my husband, three kids, two dogs and two cats. I just want the chance to love them from 200 miles away for a while.

Thus, soups, plural, a combination planning-ahead meal/guilt offering. The kids are sick of my potato soup variations and I don't have time to shop today, so I'm pulling out two family faves (handed down to me by my mother) that can readily be made with pantry and fridge staples.

Aunt Lil's Carrot Soup

This recipe comes from my great-aunt Lilian McEachron Yarter, who lived to be 92, so you know it's good for you. 

1 lb, hamburger
1/4 c chopped onion
2 cans Cream of Celery soup
3 c tomato juice  (I have substituted diluted tomato paste, canned diced tomatoes and even watered down ketchup - I was in law school - with no discernible harm.)
1 1/2 c boiling water
1/2 t pepper
1 T sugar
3 c grated carrots
1 bay leaf 
1/2 t garlic powder  (if substituting minced garlic, up it to 1 t and saute it with the onion.

Saute hamburger and onion. Add everything else. Simmer on stovetop for 1 1/2 hours, or 8 hours low/4 hours high in crockpot.

Vegetable Bean Soup

1 lb beans, canned or precooked
1 large can tomatoes
1 c chopped celery
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
parsley, fresh if you have it, dried if not
1/2 t chili powder, but you can add more when you adjust the taste
1 can chili beans (the kind with the flavor already added)
1 tsp. bouillon/1 cube

Add all together, cover with water, simmer for hours.  If I have it, I will substitute my own chicken broth for the water/bouillon. Helps reduce the sodium. With either of these, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Enjoy far away from your loved ones!


  1. Mmmmm, yum. Thanks for the delicious-sounding recipes. I just happen to have carrots in my refrigerator and my crock pot is handy, so I'm all set. [But we love your potato soup variations, too --- everyone smiles when the corn chowder shows up in the soup bowls.]

  2. Good Luck writing Julia! You did so well last time, I bet you'll come back having written THE END.

  3. Perfect! Your agent is a dream…but that's what she says about you, too! oxo

  4. Write well!
    Love my crockpot, love good soup and love these recipes - thanks!

  5. In the 80's and 90's I edited/wrote newsletters for sewing professionals. One of our topics was Desperation Dinners--easy, quick recipes to throw together, but with enough nutrition to keep everyone alive until the crisis had passed. These recipes would fall into the category, except that grating the carrots is a little beyond the scope of "no labor required". Hope you either have a sous chef or a food processor!

    Enjoy quiet, productive time on your retreat, Julia!

  6. PS I've been reading an Elin Hilderbrand novel that takes place on Nantucket, in fact, the island is one of the voices in the book. And now I really want to go there, as well. It sounds like a lovely place.

  7. Have a great, productive time in Nantucket... and could you take me with you because likewise I am stalled with new book...

    Right now I'm in Los Angeles where for the first time in a long while I GET why people love it here. It's green (drought? What drought?) and gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous weather.

    Hope to see some Jungle Red readers at the LA Book Festival tomorrow!

  8. Whatever will get me closer to a book -- that's what YOU should do! :)

  9. Karen,

    I love my ancient food processor. I actually have two gifts I got at my wedding and still use almost weekly: my crockpot and my food processor. Neither of them are very pretty anymore, but they get 'er done, as we say in Maine.

  10. Julia, you forgot an important ingredient in the carrot soup: 2 cans cream of celery soup. Your dad and I have soups every Sunday night during the long Syracuse winters.

  11. Yikes!!

    Thanks, Mom. I'll edit it to include the CoC soup!

  12. Nantucket is one of the few perfect places to write.