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Comfort Soup

Jane Harrod, a Blue Grass Energy member, raises native plants in her Anderson County greenhouses for her business, Jane’s Native Seeds, and works with habitat restoration projects like a native wetland with the Jackson County school system.

But she’s a food farmer, too, raising 25 head of cattle on her family’s farm at Clay’s Ferry. “We’re fifth-generation farmers on that land,” she says.

In addition to raising beef and her native plant business, Jane raises 2 1⁄2 acres of vegetables, melons, and sorghum, which she starts in her greenhouses and transplants to the farm at Clay’s Ferry, using no chemical inputs. She sells her products at the Berea Farmers’ Market, and cooperates with several other farmers to provide food for a buying club that sells directly to consumers.

She cooks with the food she grows, too, and is an enthusiastic canner, so it’s not surprising that a beef-vegetable soup is a stalwart of her repertoire. Soup is a good receptacle for less-tender cuts or even the ubiquitous ground beef. “This is some big-time comfort eating,” Jane says about the soup. “It really might be too easy, but it’s so delicious.”

Jane’s Vegetable Soup
3 Tbsp olive oil, or as needed
2 C diced sweet onions
1 1⁄2 lbs cubed lean round steak or sirloin, or hamburger
4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄2 lb carrots, chopped (about 1 1⁄2 cups)
2 lbs potatoes, cubed
2 C chopped celery
1 qt green beans, home canned or frozen
1 qt corn, home canned or frozen
2 qt tomato juice, or whole tomatoes chopped
1 Tbsp fresh or dried parsley
2 tsp summer savory or winter savory
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
Day-old bread or biscuits
Cheese of choice

Put olive oil in a very large soup pot with a heavy bottom. Place over medium heat and add onions. Cook until light brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, and lowering heat as necessary.

Add cubed beef and brown (if using burger, brown in a separate skillet and pour off the fat, then add to onions). Add minced garlic and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Note: If using canned vegetables with salt added, adjust the salt you add to the soup. Cook 45 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender. Add water if soup gets too thick (Jane adds about a quart).

Slice day-old homemade bread or biscuits and place in a buttered skillet over medium heat. Top with cheese of choice (cheddar, goat, Swiss, etc.). Cover with lid to toast bread and melt cheese. Put toasted cheese bread in the bottom of a soup bowl, ladle hot soup over it, and garnish with either salsa or homemade relish. Freezes well. Serves 12.


Kentucky Amber Pie
1⁄2 C butter
1⁄2 C sugar
4 egg yolks, well-beaten
1⁄2 C blackberry jam, preferably homemade
1⁄2 C cream
2 Tbsp flour
1 unbaked pie shell

Heat oven to 350°. Combine butter and sugar until well-blended and creamy. Add eggs, jam, cream, and flour, and mix well. Pour into pie crust and bake at 350° until firm, about 40 minutes.

Submitted by RITA FLENER, Cromwell, a member of Warren RECC, who got this recipe from her grandmother. “I think she called it amber pie because the little bits of berry were suspended in the filling like things in ancient times got suspended in drops of amber. Plus, when the filling is mixed and baked it has a dark, dark amber color. She would make it for us kids as a reward for helping pick the berries and can the jam. Although I am nearly 60 I still pick berries every year and use her jam recipe.”

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