It's been cold this week, in case anyone hasn't noticed. I like the cold. I like getting bundled up in a nice heavy sweater at home, or in a nice warm jacket if I have to go out. It's also a great time for soup.
This morning I went to the supermarket to get some stew meat to make beef vegetable soup. While there I saw oxtails. They were a staple when I was young. My mother made a great big pot of oxtail soup on cold winter days. The soup was very good, but what I really remember was the vegetables she used. She would buy cans of either Veg-All or Veg-Pack. The strange thing about these vegetables was that they were a combination of carrots, peas, lima beans, corn and green beans, all packed separately and divided by a sheet of paper in the can. Why they were separated I'll never understand since they were meant to be put into a pot and mixed up. Oh well.
When I got home, I realized that I couldn't find my mother's recipe. It's buried somewhere in one of my cookbooks. I decided to wing it, after all how hard is it to make soup. So, I put the oxtails in a pot, browned them, added beef broth, some tomato paste (I think she used ketchup) and the vegetables (a frozen mix). It simmered for hours. It tasted pretty good, it should be better tomorrow after everything has had a chance to settle.
Oh, I also added a small fistful of barley and that reminded me of my brother. Several years ago, he decided to make the soup following my mother's recipe. When he got to the barley, which was supposed to be about a tablespoon, he decided that wasn't enough. So, he added the whole box.
Of course, the barley expanded and instead of oxtail soup, he wound up with barley stew. Once I got through the barley, it wasn't too bad.
I'm looking forward to a nice piping hot bowl of soup tomorrow night.