One of my most favorite meals in the world is a bowl of steaming hot soup. It really is the ultimate comfort food for me. Coming from a large family, soups and stews, casseroles and the like, were standard fare. And Mom knew how to cook ’em.

Each season has its gastronomic benefits, but I think Fall may just be my favorite because soups and stews come back into fashion. They are the perfect meal when the leaves are falling and the wind is blowing them into dervish whirls.

Soups and stews don’t call for recipes where I come from – they are just made with what is in the house at that moment in time. Tonight’s soup is a prime example:

  • beef round steak
  • beef broth
  • onion
  • garlic
  • celery
  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • can of diced tomatoes
  • can of yellow hominy
  • bag of frozen mixed vegetables
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oregano
  • red wine
  • hot sauce

Chop the onions, wilt them in a bit of oil, add the beef and the garlic, brown it a bit, add the wine and cook it down a bit, add the tomatoes and the broth and simmer for an hour or so until the meat starts to get tender. At this point you can add the rest of the vegetables and simmer until everything is cooked through.

Ladle into bowls, add some hot sauce and top with grated cheese, if desired. Serve with crusty bread or crackers.

That’s it.

The hominy will often become a can of beans, the oregano becomes herbes d’Provence, fresh hot peppers or sambal oeleck are added if Nonna is having something else… Just stuff thrown into a pot.

It’s amazing just how good – and simple – a pot of soup can be. I actually made this batch yesterday for dinner and we had it again, tonight.

It’s total simplicity – and totally fulfilling.