Beef, potatoes and tons of veg in this hearty soup will keep you warm and fill you up.
As I finish this post, I’m looking out my window and see my new red maple tree bravely holding on to its colorful leaves against a breeze that’s picked up in the last 10 minutes. Fall is here in Missouri, and the temperature today will continue to drop from about 40 degrees to near freezing tonight. That, plus the chilly rain that should be here by noon, makes me grateful I have some leftover Mormon soup in the refrigerator for my lunch.
Soup is a big part of Hungarian cuisine; maybe that’s why my mom frequently had a pot simmering whenever the weather turned cooler. I’d say this would be one of her signature dishes, and I guess she thought so as well (it was in the Trinity United Church of Christ cookbook).
However, I’m not sure why she called it Mormon soup. I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has a similarly named recipe in their cookbook collection. Search for “Mormon soup” online and you’ll likely find a variety of split-pea soup recipes. I found an older article on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints website that touched on Mormon pioneer women and what might have been packed and eaten on the trek west from Illinois to Utah.
According to the article, people making the difficult winter initial journey from Nauvoo, Illinois, to present day Omaha, Nebraska, in 1846 lived mainly on cornbread and molasses, mixing it into a thin gruel. They learned not to waste anything, and later used leftover meat with any vegetable they could find.
Which brings me back to Mom’s recipe. It’s basically a hamburger-vegetable soup with a basic mirepoix, potatoes, and canned tomatoes. But Mom added cabbage, corn, and barley. Maybe she simply had these ingredients on hand and didn’t want them to go to waste, not unlike the Mormon women trying to get to Utah.
The recipe she submitted to the cookbook’s editor simply reads “put everything in a large pot and cook until vegetables are tender.” Her acute brevity might have been fueled by the fact she had to write the recipe out by hand as we didn’t have a typewriter (remember, this was before home computers). I also recall making this soup in the past when the barley wasn’t cooked quite long enough. So, I’ve added a few of my tips for this soup. Serve it with Boston brown bread for a hearty lunch or a lighter, satisfying supper.