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By Kimara - Posted on 08 January 2008

            Back in the mid 80s my big brother was working on his Ph.D. at Cornell University in Ithica, New York. Being young and reckless, hmmm, more like young and abounding with ample energy, we often made the 8 hour car trip to visit him and his family. On a Friday afternoon, we’d strap the little ones into car seats, and head east. It was nothing for us to roll into town at 1 a.m. then turn around again on Sunday afternoon and head back. Although the trip itself was exhausting, my children were good travelers, and we always had a wonderful time, justifying the whirlwind trip.


            My favorite time of year to make the trek was in the fall. Sure, you’re thinking, the autumn foliage must have been stunning. While that was true, the thing I looked forward to the most was the fields of cabbage. (I know, at this point you’re thinking I need to get out more!) But, growing up in the Midwest, I was use to viewing miles of tall corn stalks or the over crowded soybean fields. I’m not sure why, but surveying the rolling hills of rural New York, dotted with uniform rows of anemic green spheres fascinated me. Plus, as an added bonus, the roadsides were littered with wagons, piled high with cabbages. In what I considered the epitome of human virtue, little wooden boxes were attached to each wagon, and you could jump out of your car, select a basketball sized cabbage, and purchase it by stuffing a measly dollar bill into the box. The trust in human nature captivated me. Why, anyone could pull up and make off with a cabbage or two and not pay! Later in life, when I was older, and probably more pragmatic, it would occur to me that cabbage theft probably wasn’t a huge problem. I’m willing to bet there was never an APB alerting local law enforcement personal to be on the lookout for an individual absconding with a “hot” head of cabbage! But at the time, I loved the quaintness of purchasing cabbages in this manner, and would always buy 2, one for us, and one to leave with my brother’s family.


            Now, my brother’s family lived in married housing, which, at a world renowned university like Cornell, was like setting up housekeeping at the United Nations! Coming from a cloistered Midwest community, the exposure to diverse ethnicities was enthralling. The most notable time to observe global diversity was dinner. With cinder block apartments, and almost no ventilation, resourceful cooks prepared homeland dinners, leaving their kitchen windows open a bit to allow steam and heat to escape. Wander up and down the sidewalk at six o’clock and your nose was accosted by pungent aromas. Curry and cumin, basil and oregano, cinnamon and nutmeg…each bouquet tantalizing and intriguing, and it took a great deal of self restraint not to barge into each apartment, demanding “just a taste, please!” As for my sister-in-law, she prepared many typical American dishes but as their three year tenure progressed, she was exposed to many interesting entrees shared by her neighbors, and privy to many ethnic nuances. For example, one of their friends from Sudan, besides making the strongest cup of espresso I’ve ever had in my entire life, put cinnamon in many of his dishes…including hamburgers! (Try it sometimes…half a teaspoon of cinnamon in a pound of ground beef adds an interesting and delicious twist to this American classic!)


            As I mentioned earlier, my favorite time of year to visit them was in the fall. Besides the cabbage patch appeal, one of the dinners that often awaited us was Vegetable Beef Soup with Dumplings. This was a common dish prepared by my sister-in-law’s mother, and became a favorite with her family. After tasting it for the first time, it became a favorite with ours, too. Since then, nothing in our family signals the arrival of fall like the first bowl of Vegetable Beef Soup. We over crowd the pot with dumplings, bake up a fresh pan of corn bread, and reach culinary nirvana. I hope this was a recipe that she shared with her multi-cultured friends, because I’ve yet to serve it to anyone who did not thoroughly enjoy it! Although I never received the “official” recipe from my sister-in-law, this is the facsimile I’ve made throughout the years and has become a family standard. Not only is it a fall favorite, but it helps us get through our long, snowy winter days!






1 28 ounce can sliced stewed tomatoes, plus 1 can water

1 28 ounce can tomato sauce, plus 2 cans water

4 - 6 beef bouillon cubes

4 bay leaves

2 teaspoons dried basil

1 teaspoons oregano

1 medium onion

4 - 8 stalks celery, chopped

8 - 12 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 package frozen vegetables (mixed vegetables work well)

1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil

2 pounds cubed beef (stew quality)

1 beef bone (optional, but adds a lot of flavor)


Dumplings: we like lots but you can easily cut this recipe in half!

1 dozen eggs

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Flour - use enough (cups) to make into lumpy play dough




Heat the oil in a large stock pot. Brown the meat, onions and celery. Add stewed tomatoes, sauce and the water. Bring to boil. Lower the heat to medium low. Add additional ingredients. Cook for 3 – 4 hours.



Break eggs into a bowl and mix with a fork to break yolks. Add seasonings. Add flour, a little at a time, and mix. Continue added flour until the dough sticks together and looks like sticky play dough.


Bring soup to a boil, being careful not to burn. Drop heaping teaspoons full of dumpling mixture into soup. Stagger where you drop them so they do not stick together. After all the dumplings have been put in, lower temp back down to medium and continue cooking, with top off, until dumplings are cooked all the way through...probably about ten minutes. Watch the soup and mix from the bottom to prevent burning. Test a large dumpling to make sure it is thoroughly cooked.


BTW…in an effort to tie together my whole story…the problem with buying a cabbage the size of a small planet is coming up with ways to use it! Besides the obvious corned beef and cabbage, cabbage makes a wonderful addition to many soups. If you’re looking for a low calorie version of our Vegetable Beef Soup with Dumplings, omit the dumplings (blasphemy to my children!) and add 2 – 4 cups of chopped cabbage. It’s wonderful!


Do you have a favorite soup recipe? Please share it. Soups are a mainstay in our family, and we’re always on the lookout for our next favorite one!

Sounds perfect recipe and also sounds delicious. I will cook this soup using this recipe.
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Wow, I do love this recipe. It's a perfect meal for the family. - Nova Science Publishers