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Soup really is good food
Around the table
Besides being grandma's cure-all, chicken noodle soup can also be tasty. - photo by Stock photo

Soup is one of those simple comfort foods that conjure pleasant childhood memories, like watching “The Wonderful World of Disney” on a Sunday evening while eating a bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup with a grilled-cheese sandwich.
Soup, sandwich and Disney are intertwined and imbedded in the recesses of my mind, if not my heart. In fact, an old advertising jingle by Campbell’s Soup still warms my soul. I can hear that motherly voice singing, “Soup is good food.” I grew up eating gallons of Campbell’s soup, not only tomato but chicken noodle, bean with bacon and vegetable beef.
As much as I still enjoy those canned soups, I especially love a bowl of homemade soup. It’s a mere technicality, I suppose, as to when a soup becomes a chowder or stew. I think it mostly has to do with the amount of broth.
Typically, chicken and dumplings is more of a stew than a soup, but Jackson’s Big Oak BBQ in Wilmington, N.C., serves a bowl of chicken and dumplings with enough extra broth to make it count as a soup. It is, by the way, the best I’ve ever had, and that includes the chicken and dumplings at Cracker Barrel, which is renowned for some great homemade soups.
I also love a bowl of New England-style clam chowder and especially she-crab soup. The very best crab soup or stew I’ve had can be found at Uncle Bubba’s Seafood & Oyster House off Bryan Woods Road and Highway 80 East on Wilmington Island. There’s also the offering at MacElwees Seafood Restaurant on Tybee Island. Both offer huge chunks of crab swimming in a thick, creamy broth that’s seasoned with onions, garlic, a touch of sherry and a variety of spices.
Two soups I’ve made at home both make use of something many families give to Rufus, their 100-pound Labrador-Rottweiler. When you finish with that spiral ham or smoked pork shoulder, save that bone to make soup. It’s too big for your pug and probably will prompt Rufus to dig up your flower garden to bury it among your gardenias.
The two soups I like to make are a three-bean soup and a vegetable-beef soup. Both make use of a ham bone for added flavor. Both recipes are simple, so I’ll list them one after the other.

Three-bean soup
1 pound chopped chunks of ham
1/2 bag dried Northern beans
1/2 bag dried navy beans
1/2 bag dried baby lima beans
2 large, chopped onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 or 4 cans chicken broth
1 ham bone
Wash and then soak beans together overnight in a large bowl. Begin soup by sautéing onions, garlic and celery in a little canola oil.
Add chicken broth, and then beans, ham chunks and ham bone.
Bring soup to a boil, and then allow it to simmer for at least three hours. Stir often.
Add more water or chicken broth if needed. Salt and pepper to taste.

Vegetable-beef soup
1 pound stew beef
2 large, chopped onions
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 cans chicken broth
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 ham bone
4 potatoes, chopped
1/2 small bag frozen butter beans
1/2 small bag frozen green beans
1/2 small bag frozen yellow corn
1 small bag frozen okra
Brown beef and fresh veggies (except potatoes) in a little canola oil, and then add canned tomatoes, chicken broth and ham bone.
Bring to a simmer then add fresh potatoes and frozen veggies. I prefer frozen vegetables to canned because they have fewer preservatives. If you like, add the other half bag of your favorite vegetable. I like extra butter beans.
Bring soup to a boil and allow it to simmer for three hours. Stir often.
Add more chicken broth if needed. Salt and pepper to taste.

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