I have often mentioned my grandparents (aka Papa and Mayme) and talked about their garden. As a child Mayme and Papa would take care of me during the daytime while my parent were at work. My Mom would usually drop me off at their house around 7:45 in the mornings and I would run straight out into the garden to play. Then Mayme would call me into the house and we would get to work. There would usually be a big pile of tomatoes or green beans that need to be canned. There would be black-eyed peas that needed to be shelled and pickles that need to be made. Some days she would mix it up a bit and we would make her Banana Nut Bread, Chocolate Pie or a Peach Cobbler. But there was always work to be done in the kitchen.
Then Papa would come home around 3pm and we would go out to the garden and dig up potatoes, turnips, beets, onions, pick green beans, black-eyed peas, okra and of course check on the tomatoes. To this day at 80 and 83 years old they are still out there working in their beloved garden.
One of my favorite lunchtime meals as a kid was my Mayme’s Vegetable Soup. I remember watching her make it countless times as a kid with all of the vegetables from her garden.
Years later I asked her how to make her soup and she told me she didn’t know it was just made with what ever she had at the time. So it took me several tries over the years, but last year I finally got it right.
What makes this vegetable soup so good is its simplicity. Mayme’s vegetable soup isn’t over powered herbs or strong spices just fresh vegetables from her summer garden, water, salt and pepper. Don’t make the mistake I made once by using chicken stock, it was not even close to Mayme’s, you have to use just plain water. This is the best vegetable soup ever and it’s so easy to make as long as you remember to keep it simple.
Depending on the time of year I usually take a little help from the grocery store and use frozen corn, black-eyed peas with snaps, and frozen okra.
What are Black-Eyed Peas with snaps? The snaps are just a whole black-eyed pea pods broken in half and cooked with the peas. They are my favorite and as a kid when I was shelling peas my bowl would always have lots of snaps. Look for them at your local farmers market or you can even find them in the freezer section of most grocery stores.
Mayme’s Garden Vegetable Soup
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion, diced
3 Stocks of Celery, diced
3 Carrots, peeled and diced
2 Cups of Potatoes, peels and chopped into bite sized pieces
1½ Cups Corn
2 Cups Black Eyed Peas with Snaps
1 28oz. Can of Whole Plum Tomatoes
2 Cups of Okra, chopped
6 Cups of Water
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
This is the hardest part of this soup… Prep all the vegetables.
Heat a large heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Add the chopped Onions, Carrots, and Celery to the pot with 2 good pinches of salt and black pepper to taste. Lower the heat to medium and sweat the vegetables down for 5 minutes. Add in the chopped potato and cook for another 5 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking down, carefully separate the canned plum tomatoes from their juice and roughly chop up the tomatoes then add them to the pot with half a cup of their juice.
Add in the 6 cups of water, the corn, black-eyed peas and snaps, and the okra. Add about a tablespoon of kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Bring everything up to a boil. Put a lid on the pot and simmer for 1 hour.
Taste for seasoning.
Serve this soup with a grilled cheese sandwich or Saltine Crackers.
** I usually make a double recipe of this soup in the summer time and I freeze it in individual portions.