When we first got married, 40 years ago, putting food up was a point of contention between us. Hubs grew up on a small farm, building barns and driving a tractor. His families “normal” was to go out to the chicken coop and garden to get dinner and fill the pantry up with home-grown canned goods. I grew up on a city lot going to Broadway musicals, taking singing, art and dance lessons. Jolly Green Giant canned vegetables, iceberg lettuce and fresh grapefruit represented the fruit and veg food group at our dinner table.
Fast forward to marriage – as a young newly wed couple, (yes this is us)
we had 2 large gardens, one in corn and the other full of assorted veggies. Gardening was new and exciting to me but I was overwhelmed at the idea of food preservation not knowing where to begin. I was eager to learn though and through trial and error figured out what works best for our lifestyle. I have never reached the productivity level of his mom (sadly I never got to meet this amazing talented woman. She passed at a young age from cancer). Comparatively, I keep it fairly simple and only put up what I know we will use. These days we are quite the team. Storing up food for winter is a source of joy to both of us and the fact that it all came from our garden is very rewarding.
It’s my preference to put up food that is stove top or oven ready, with a few exceptions – like I freeze apples, plums, pears and peaches for smoothies and desserts. But I don’t can tomatoes or peaches. We don’t consume those in quantity so we put our time and energy into other food projects. It’s so convenient to have marinara and salsa, peach pies, apple pies, squash puree, and a variety of soups frozen and meal ready. This summer along with a variety of pickles, I’ve made marinara sauce,
salsa with my daughter (and Greta our sweet grand daughter who was obviously a big help)
Garden Vegetable Soup and this pesto that I freeze in ice cube trays.
Fall preserving schedule is puree’d winter squash, oven ready apple pies , chicken pot pies and more soups.
This Freezer Garden Vegetable Soup stands the test of time though.
It’s a regular…year after year I make it and it never losses its yum factor. It’s made with all the veggies harvested at the end of the garden season. They taste as fresh as the day the soup was made, in the dead of winter. It can be made vegan by using vegetable stock. When thawed and reheated add grain or pasta and legume combo’s to provide a complete protein. Alternately, make it with chicken stock, freeze, and when thawed, reheat with a protein of choice. I love how versatile this soup is and very affordable when making it with seasonally fresh ingredients.
For us it takes the guess-work and prep out of packing lunches during the winter months. We bring it to work thawed and pour it into a 2 quart crock pot at the office. It gets devoured during the lunch hour. With added protein, it’s the perfect amount of food and it satisfies until dinner. Don’t limit it to lunch though. Add leftover cooked meat and you have a stew. Throw together a salad and muffins and you have a quick mid-week meal for your family. It’s very convenient, delicious, affordable plus nutrient rich.
Set aside a day to make this and you won’t be sorry. Using the food processor to chop the onions and tomatoes eased the prep work greatly. Just be careful not to puree the onions. It helped to quarter both before putting them in to process.
When it comes to freezing containers, I’ve used recycled Nancy’s quart yogurt containers, zip-loc freezer quart bags and wide mouth mason jars. When getting ready to freeze soup let it cool completely before filling your containers. For mason jars, fill to an inch of the rim and freeze without a lid. After frozen screw your lid on. This ensures no breakage 🙂
This recipe is a repost from my archives, only I’ve tweaked the recipe for the sake of a greater yield. This recipe makes 12 qts. and I make it in my wonderful 12 qt. stock pot.
Grab family and/ or a friend and have fun with this one! Many hands make light work as they say.
1/4 cup olive oil
8 cups chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped garlic
10 cups chopped carrots
8 cups chopped summer squash
3 cups green beans trimmed and cut in 1 inch pieces
8 cups chopped greens (kale, chard, spinach) optional
2 1/2 quarts peeled and chopped tomatoes
3 quarts chicken or vegetable stock (homemade or store bought)
a bundle of 10-12 thyme stems
8 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried basil
sea salt to taste
1 teaspoon pepper
Directions: Heat a large stock pot over a medium flame. Add oil and saute onions and garlic until translucent. Add chopped carrots and stir, sauteing another 4-5 minutes. Stir in summer squash, cooking another few minutes, toasting the vegetables to bring out their flavor. Add tomatoes, stock, thyme, bay leaves, basil, pepper and 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Bring to a boil, add green beans, cover, turn flame to a simmer and cook 15 minutes. If using greens, stir them in the last 5 minutes of cooking. (I cook the soup until the carrots and green beans are tender enough to pierce with a fork. They will cook to desired soup consistency when reheated to serve.)
Let cool completely before packing into quart freezer bags or mason jars.