Originally created 01/27/99

Quick cooking: Winter soup spreads warmth



Next time the weather report indicates a coming cold front, head to the grocery store for the ingredients for this warming vegetable soup. A few minutes of preparation using convenience products and a day in the crock pot will yield a delicious, old-fashioned soup that you can share with the neighbors.

Making vegetable soup used to be a Sunday task at my house. I'd come home from church, spend an hour chopping vegetables, and stand over a pot of simmering soup for the rest of the afternoon.

Now, with the help of grocery-shredded cabbage, frozen vegetables and my crock pot, I can whip this together in a few minutes in the morning, then come home to the ultimate comfort food in the evening.

To make the soup a snap to prepare, I use two 10-ounce bags of shredded angel hair cut cabbage. This provides the equivalent of a finely shredded whole head of cabbage, without the work. Then, in goes a thawed bag of Seasoning Blend, a couple pounds of stew beef and a large can of tomato paste mixed into 4 or 5 cups of water with a tablespoon or two of Worcestershire sauce.

This mixture simmers all day on my crock pot's "high" setting. About an hour before dinner, I stir in thawed bags of mixed vegetables and pole beans, and my work is done.

Don't be intimidated by the amount of cabbage in this recipe. The cabbage cooks down until its presence is hardly noticeable in the finished soup.

This recipe fills my 5 1/2 -quart crock pot and feeds my family for days. The soup freezes very well, so we often divide it into containers after dinner and store it in the freezer for another cold spell.

I've also given the soup to friends and neighbors, who have appreciated its warming goodness.

Corn muffins are a a great accompaniment to the soup. And an apple or peach crisp, either from a mix or homemade, is a good way to end this homey meal.

CROCK-POT VEGETABLE SOUP

2 10-ounce bags shredded angel-hair cut cabbage or one head of cabbage, finely shredded

1 16-ounce bag frozen Seasoning Blend or 1 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper and 1/2 cup chopped celery

2 to 3 pounds stew beef

1 12-ounce can tomato paste

4 or 5 cups of water (depending on the size of your crock pot)

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 16-ounce bag frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1 16-ounce bag frozen pole beans, thawed

Salt and pepper to taste

Layer the shredded cabbage, Seasoning Blend and beef in a large crock pot. In a bowl, combine the tomato paste, water and Worcestershire sauce. Pour the tomato paste mixture over the ingredients in the crock pot. Cook on the high setting for 6 to 8 hours.

Stir in the thawed mixed vegetables and pole beans and cook an additional hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Makes 12 servings.