by Catherine D. Tenney
When I was a little girl bursting in the house fresh from the school bus, the fragrance of simmering soup often piqued my curiosity.
Daddy was the soup maker supreme in our kitchen and he had a delicious gift of concoction. It little mattered what was on hand, he could transform it into a mouth-watering, tummy-filling soup. Whether it meant using the forgotten vegetables in the refrigerator and random leftovers or making use of a “mess” of something a neighbor had dropped by, the result was always the same – an intriguing and delicious soup. As I would lift the lid with anticipation, its simmering smell all but filled me.
Can it be that every smell worth remembering holds the promise of something even better? I don’t know. Maybe that was what that unexpected whiff carried to me. Or maybe it wasn’t that exactly. Perhaps it was not the promise it held, but the assurance that it's being there conveyed. That smell of onions, tomatoes, beef stock, celery, parsley – and who knows for sure what else – perhaps that was my assurance that what had been promised, what was expected, was actually there.
Perhaps your memory has a few hundred loaves of homemade bread tucked into one corner. Mine does – Mama’s bread. The power her bread held over me had little to do with its smell when it baked. That smell made me hungry. The smell I remember is the one that filled me. The way the yeast smelled as it swelled and rose in our tallest glass – that is what I savored. Even when I was very little, I knew that if the yeast worked, the bread worked.
The smell of soup simmering and bread rising held a marvelous reassurance for me. In spite of the injustices of my day at school, things were right at home.
My parents’ labors had provided for our table delicacies that could have rightly been envied by a king. Their patience, labor and love created for us children a simple tradition that reflected quality and contentment from the simple ingredients of life. With body and soul thus filled, how rich we were. How rich!
- Water, lukewarm
(Basic recipe – Mama always doubled it.)
- Dissolve 2 tablespoons of yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Add a spoonful of sugar and watch for it to double in bulk and form tiny bubbles.
- Scald 2 cups milk and let it cool slightly.
- Add 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 cup shortening or oil and the bubbly yeast mixture. (Not too hot or you’ll kill the yeast!)
- Next add about 7 cups of white flour combined with 1 tablespoon salt. Mix thoroughly. (We had a giant bread bucket with a dough hook attached. This kneaded the bread.)
- Let it sit until it doubles in bulk. Punch down and knead a little more. Shape and form into about 3 loaves. Grease the bread pans with shortening and put the shaped loaves into them. Let them rise until doubled in bulk again.
- Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. Crust should be a rich brown color. Turn out of the pans and brush tops with shortening. Put them on their sides to cool.
- Get out the butter and jam. The first loaf will evaporate before your eyes. To make it easier to slice, let the hot loaf stand on a serrated bread knife before cutting.
- 1 lb. Ground Beef
- 1 med. Onion, chopped
- 1 tsp. Garlic Salt
- 1 tsp. Oregano
- 1 cup Rice, cooked
- 6 cups Zucchini, sliced and barely steamed
- 2 cups Cottage Cheese
- 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 2 cups Fresh Mushrooms
- 2 cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded
- Brown hamburger and onions in a large skillet. Add seasonings and rice. Cover and simmer for five minutes.
- In a 9x13 cake pan, layer ingredients in the following order: three cups zucchini slices, meat mixture, cottage cheese, remaining zucchini slices, mushroom soup, mushrooms, cheddar cheese.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 6.
Written by Catherine D. Tenney. Re-published in the IFA Cooperator magazine (vol. 83, no. 2) Summer 2017.
Catherine D. Tenney wrote farm-themed columns for many years in IFA Cooperator magazine during the 1980s. She grew up on a 100-cow dairy farm in Provo and her parents were co-op members.