Vegetable Soup with Hamburger

This weekend I had the pleasure of taking care of my 81 year-old grandmother, V, and three dogs. I was supposed to have help from Greg but he had to go in Saturday for what was supposed to be a few hours that turned into almost a full day. I’m not totally convinced he wasn’t trying to avoid the farm that weekend, but he assures me they were busy as work. 

Do you see this? She’s bossy even at 2 year old birthday parties. Oh, and the photo was taken by my dear friend, Meghan McSweeney, who didn’t know what she was getting into when she photographed our wedding almost four years ago. 🙂

My Grandma Merle is beyond a doubt, the funniest woman you’ll ever meet.  Her one-liners will have you rolling on the floor even though there is a good chance they are very inappropriate and ever-so-slightly racist. More on her later. This entry is about soup, I swear.

I was actually pretty excited to spend the weekend with her because I figured she would be so happy to have me there cooking and cleaning so she wouldn’t have to worry about anything while she was recovering. Boy was I wrong. She was stubborn and negative and all but told me she was glad when I left. She complained when I cleaned because she thought it was offensive and that I was implying her house was dirty. It wasn’t dirty, but it could have been more clean. She refused to let me help her do anything because she insisted she didn’t need anyone taking care of her. Nevermind the fact that she could barely walk unless she was going to the garage to smoke a cigarette, because that was never a problem. Oh, and she’ll try to convince you she’s “perfectly healthy” except for the fact she smokes like a chimney and gets bronchitis frequently. Sigh. More on that later as well. 

And getting her to eat! Ha! That was so not going to happen. I made all these lovely comfort food dishes and she turned down every single one of them. Except for a turnip dish I made. She ate one slice of turnip. One. Friggin. Slice. She did, however, have a miraculous appetite for my Great-Aunt Jewel’s “vegetable soup with hamburger.” I know what you’re thinking. Shouldn’t it be called vegetable and hamburger soup? Yeah, I said the same thing, but Merle insisted it was called vegetable soup with hamburger. It reminds me of the time, well one of the times, that I was playing the role of a vegetarian and she insisted that I could eat the beef stir-fry because I could just eat the vegetables. I’m pretty sure it’s a southern thing.

As I slaved away in the house making spaghetti and other comfort foods, Grandma reminded me of 1. How she was not going to eat anything because “this damn percocet is making me loopy and stopped up.” and 2. Jewel just makes the most wonderful soup. Add on the fact that my daughter, who loves to not eat my cooking when she’s sick as well, thought Jewel’s soup was like the best thing she’s ever eaten.

After one bowl of this soup, I had to agree that it was comforting. It’s very similar to my Mom’s chicken and vegetable soup, which always tastes good when you’re not feeling so hot. I asked Jewel for the recipe and when I received it in my email, I was again reminded how some of the simplest recipes can bring the most comfort. I’m just thankful someone could make something that Merle was willing to eat.

I really don’t mean to be dissing Merle. She’s 81 and has a fracture in her spine, which would be a bummer to anyone. I love her dearly and know she doesn’t mean anything by what she says. She’s also pretty damn cute with V, which totally makes up for it. That and her cursing. And her drinking. And her smoking. Anyways, enjoy the recipe. 🙂

I apologize for the picture. Greg took the camera to work with him last night (Doesn’t he realize I’m a big-time blogger now?), so I had to use my phone. I swear the soup tastes better than it looks.

Jewel titled the recipe: Hamburger and Vegetable Soup


  • 1 pound hamburger (I used a pound of ground beef from Polyface Farms. If you’re not close to Polyface, I recommend picking up their products from Farm 2 Family in Richmond.)
  • 1 16 oz. bag frozen vegetables (I used corn, green beans, lima beans, and carrots)
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (Jewel’s recipe says to chop some of them up in a blender but we didn’t do this.)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 TBS sugar (3 if you’re like me and like soup to be sweet)


1. Brown hamburger, onions, and celery together.

2. Add tomatoes (plus juice), potatoes, vegetables, and other seasonings.

3. Bring to a slight boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 1 hour. Stir occassionally.

4. Serve hot with a big piece of white bread or biscuit with butter and you’ll have a wonderfully-southern meal.


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