Appalachian Food

First Day Of Fall & Granny’s Soup

Today is the first day of fall, but with the high temps we’ve been having it really doesn’t feel like it. We’ve had a few teases of fall like weather, but it seems Summer is determined to hold on tight this year.

Regardless of the weather this time of the year I start craving the things Granny cooked in the fall of the year. One of which, is Granny’s homemade soup. I don’t recall Granny ever cooking soup that had meat in it she stuck with her one tried and true basic vegetable recipe and has never altered it that I know of.

During the summer canning season Granny cans her soup base: tomatoes, okra, and corn.

When she wants to make a pot of soup she dices up some potatoes and a large onion, covers them with water and cooks till done.

Once the potato onion mixture is cooked, she adds a spoonful of sugar (she says the sugar takes the bitterness out), a handful of macaroni pasta, and a jar of her soup base.

She lets the soup cook till the macaroni is done and then serves it with either cornbread or saltine crackers.

Once I started canning myself, I asked Granny why she didn’t just go ahead and add the onions and potatoes to her soup base. She said she had tried it that way, but thought the soup was better when she added fresh potatoes and onion on the day she made it.

Back in the day when I was working 2nd shift at a local plant I often took a bowl of Granny’s soup for my ‘lunch’ break. One night an older lady saw me eating it and ask me if it was tomatoes and noodles I said well yes it had both of them in it. She said she used to make it all the time for her girls when they were little. Up till that night I assumed Granny made the recipe up herself. Later I asked Granny where she learned to make it and she told me she grew up eating it. Her mother, my Granny Gazzie, and her Aunt Grace both made the soup. That’s where she learned to cook it and to love it.

I’ve got three questions I hope you’ll answer for me in the comments:

Have you ever ate or seen a similar homemade soup? What foods make you think of fall of the year? Have you ever heard this old saying “He’s as ugly as homemade soup?”



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  • Reply
    Sandra Vazquez
    September 22, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    I made pear preserves yesterday, using your grandmother’s recipe. Delicious as usual. I plan to use the vegetable soup recipe tomorrow. Our okra is still producing. So glad I found your blog several years ago. My grandparents lived in little Poor Valley Virginia, and my Mother was born there. They later moved to Arkansas and then to Texas. I feel their spirit, when I read the stories and make the recipes.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    September 15, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    my grandmother made that (minus pasta) and she used the vegetables she had canned — it was beyond delicious add cornbread and you had the perfect meal.

  • Reply
    September 28, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I have never heard that saying. How funny.
    I make a similar soup but no okra, green beans instead and not always corn, sometimes shelled beans. Lots of herbs and sometimes with meat and sometimes without, just depends.
    Soups and stews are without a doubt fall food. So is apple pie, we start making it in late summer but for me it really does say fall like no other food.

  • Reply
    Heather Feather
    September 23, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Hi Tipper!
    I faintly remember my mom making something like this while I was growing up. It usually had hamburger in it though. In our valley we celebrate peach days in September. I have an amazing recipe for peach parfait pie. We rush into the local drive in for a peach shake before the weather gets too chilly for ice cream! WE enjoy stews, chili, homemade chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles like Gramma makes. I like making a stew inside a pumpkin, we call it Baked Jack or dinner in a punkin. This is also the time for Carmel Apple Cider and Bothwell pumpkin cake. It’s a light cake with carmel whipped topping.
    My Grampa always had some of those funny sayings, but darn if I can remember them. I remember him saying ugly as a mud fence.
    Thanks for sparking some fun childhood memories!

  • Reply
    September 23, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Your soup sounds so good am going to have to make some up. We had our 1st official soup on Tues. I dredged in flour, pork stew meat, fried it till done then put it, carrots, celery, diced canned tomatoes, potatoes and onions, oh and fresh garlic, in a crock pot and let it “stew” all day. The seasoning I used was a Hamburger seasoning mix, and a dash of liquid smoke. There was the mandatory pan of cornbread. Talk about good. Yum. There was only a ladle of juice and one sorry piece of carrot left in the pot. LOL
    I have not heard that phrase, but use uglier n sin sometimes.
    Thanks once again for making me hungry too early in the day.

  • Reply
    September 23, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    My Mom had a homemade soup that had to have fresh green beans, not frozen or canned. I recently made a batch with lima and green beans that I had picked this year.
    Green Bean Soup: 1 lb lima beans, 6 cups fresh green beans, 1 pint sour cream, 1 tsp salt 1/4 tsp white pepper. Cook lima beans in 8 cups water, bring to boil and simmer for 3 hours. Blend with blender. Add green beans, bring back to boil and simmer 40 minutes. Add sour cream, whisk to blend. Heat for 5 minutes then serve.

  • Reply
    Canned Quilter
    September 23, 2010 at 7:00 am

    Tipper I can a very similar soup combination consisting of whatever is leftover from the garden at frost time. So I have come to call it Frost Soup. When I open the jars I add chicken or beef and cook down. Then maybe throw in some noodles and make a loaf of crusty homemade bread to go with it. Yum! Like most I have heard the expression “ugly as homemade sin”.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    September 23, 2010 at 5:22 am

    Hey Tipper,
    We can’t wait for fall here for what my boys call summer soup…
    When the tomatoes and okra are at there prime its time to make the soup…I canned a base too with tomatoes and okra sometimes corn..
    When I started freezing more after the kids were older..I make a big pot…and freeze it in quart lots…and pass it around…I always like to add the potatoes and onions later too..
    occasionally I use tiny broken pieces of spaghetti, macaroni, or small amount of rice..I call that my filler..LOL Sometimes just the potatoes…If we are in the mood I brown some ground chuck and add the base potatoes and onions…Always a pan of cornbread is baked..A slice smothered in butter, by a bowl of homemade soup, and a cold glass of milk…mercy its like you’ve died and gone to garden heaven!
    Fall memories…and reality..
    Candied apples…homemade and sticky
    Apple butter and sauce
    Crowder peas..when picking watch for those darn wasps..Why do they fly around crowder peas and not the rest of the garden does anyone know?
    Squash pickles..canned in summer but right for eatin’ by Sept..
    Creamed corn…and biscuits…for breakfast..
    Ect., ect, etc…LOL
    Ugly as homemade sin…never used ugly as homemade soup…when I see a pot with red tomatoes and okra on the stove I think it is the most beautiful and blessed thing in the world and how can so many people be starving..when okra, tomatoes and potatoes just take s “scochy” bit of work…

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    September 23, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Nothing ugly about homemade soup!
    My grandmother made a similar one but with chicken broth and a little chicken meat to, along with the vegetables.
    Fall means soup and greens and winter squash and chili and beef stew — just for starters.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Funny, I found your blog today while searching for pear preserves recipes. I’ve been working on them since yesterday, but I have about three more bushels to put up and was browsing around to see how others do it. I tell you one thing, You can find the best blogs by doing a search on pear preserve recipes! Anyway, while I’m putting up preserves I’m also canning soup mix. I’ve only done this one other time when I was newly married with a friend. I went ahead and added carrots potatoes, corn and lima beans, but I have eaten the soup you are talking about and now I have a craving for it! The foods that remind me of fall are anything with pumpkin in it, candied or caramel apples, popcorn balls, sweet potato casserole, and of course vegtable soup. I’ve never heard the saying though.

  • Reply
    Janet Pressley
    September 22, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    I love soup! The deer hunter’s dad just made a fresh run of deer camp soup. So good!!! Nana

  • Reply
    barbara gantt
    September 22, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    WE always had this kind of soup. I can the tomatoes, carrots, peas and onions if I have them. Then add potatoes, macaroin and what ever leftovers are in the refrig. I was taught to add a spoon of sugar too. Mom said taht it cut down the acid. My Mom would add a bit of leftover meat. We eat it all winter. Better when reheated. Never really had a name for it.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Summer is definitely hanging on too long here too.
    I’ve never seen veggie soup with sugar added.
    Soups, chili and stews, baking sweet all remind me of fall.
    Never heard that saying before.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    That’s some great looking soup and
    mouth watering too. Yesterday I was wrestling with the idea of soup or chili, chili won. It seems
    when you’re hungry for something
    and don’t know what it is, homeade
    soup hits the spot. I agree with
    Miss Cindy: homeade soup is a beautiful thing. And the expression I’ve heard is “ugly as
    sin.” I love fall finally getting
    here and homeade soup and pumpkin

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    September 22, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Mother made soup exactly like that. After we all left home she still made it and gave it to us when she saw us. She died in 2006 and I still have the last jar she gave me-in a cabinet in the kitchen. Keeping it that long is probably against some food safety law but I just can’t get rid of it!! You made me hungry!

  • Reply
    September 22, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    As per usual in September, summer holds on tight in Cyprus. But this year we had unusually high temperatures. I’m not fond of soups. I only eat them when I have a cold and prefer simple chicken or vegetable soups. Trahanas is our very own autumn soup.
    Other foods that match autumn are apple pie, mocca cake, taro, or okra in tomato sauce.

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    September 22, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Here I am fat and you all are making me slobber like a mad dog. Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    September 22, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    We have several variations of vegetable soup in our family and all are yummy and big fall/winter favorites. All include meat such as ground beef or stew meat.
    I like soups, stew and chili in cooler/cold weather, although that’s not happening here … we’re still oh so hot! UGH!
    I’ve never heard that expression before.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    mother made it the same way, and sometimes she would add stew meat to it in the winter time. and that was our dinner. still to hot for it right now, but i love it in cool weather. yum now i want some

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    September 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    tipper: had some yesterday, love it. also when i make potato soup it must have elbow mac and lots of onions, garlic, cheese,and carrots, with plenty of any other veggie in the house, well i guess its really not potato soup any more, is it? by the way i heard that pression while i was in n.c. see ya. k.o.h

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    September 22, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Tipper–I failed to answer the foods of fall part of your blog. Here goes:
    Persimmon pudding
    Fried apple (or peach) pies
    Apple cobbler
    October beans with ham hock or streaked meat
    Cracklin’ cornbread (for those who have lived lives of culinary deprivation, this puts ordinary cornbread to shame)
    A bit farther into fall–fresh backbones-and-ribs, fresh tenderloin, fresh pork chops, etc. (in other words, the bounty from hog-killing time)
    Molasses and biscuits
    Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin slices
    Winter squash (butternut, acorn, kushaw, etc.) with butter and brown sugar
    Fried squirrel with milk gravy
    Fresh venison backstrap cooked in any of many ways
    I’ll shut my cyberspace pie hole at this point because I’ve done worked my salivary glands into overdrive and need to go fix lunch. It will feature one final early fall item–the last of this year’s crowder peas, cooked with immature pods broken into the mix as if it was green beans.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Donna W
    September 22, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Mother canned vegetable soup with everything in it, and she taught me to do it that way. The only thing we added later was stew meat, ox tail, or neck bones, boiled until well done. I think of apples and winter squash in the fall. And yes, I grew up hearing my parents use the expression, “ugly as home-made soap”. Somewhere along the way I also heard the expression, “ugly as sin”.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Never seen that kind of soup before. But it sounds delicious!
    Fall foods? Chili and crackers, potato soup, apple pie, pumpkin pie….
    But this year….I just can’t get into fall foods. Not yet anyway. It’s just too blame hot. I’m beginning to think we are gonna skip fall just like we skipped spring.
    And I’ve not heard that expression either. I didn’t realize homemade soup was ugly. It looks pretty good to me. tee hee

  • Reply
    September 22, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I make soup similar to this. Seems like the macaroni makes it more filling. Always have a pan of cornbread to go with it. It’s a fall food favorite,so is dressing. Mama cooked that anytime,not just at holidays. It was called cush for some reason, never heard of dressing until I was grown. Never heard of the ugly saying. If somebody’s ugly, anything added to the word would just about work.We have lots of sayings in Texas.

  • Reply
    Rhonda Jacobs
    September 22, 2010 at 10:28 am

    always heard the saying “As ugly as a mud fence” My mom always said that.

  • Reply
    Rhonda Jacobs
    September 22, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Our family makes a simple soup or dish you could say of macaroni,tomatoes and sometimes cheese. also you can add a bit of bacon grease to it.Fresh or canned tomatoes work.Usually have homemade bread or rolls with it.:)

  • Reply
    September 22, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Tipper, I’ve always heard ugly as homemade sin. The soup sounds wonderful; I broke down and made chili last night for supper. I always make a huge batch of soup and then freeze a few containers for when I need a quick meal and make a skillet of cornbread. I’m dying for a skillet full of fried apples when I can find some good fresh apples.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2010 at 10:17 am

    apple cider and donuts,
    chili with shredded cheddar atop,
    hot chocolate with marshmellows
    broccoli cheddar soup in a sourdough breadbowl …
    i will stop now before i embarrass myself further! 🙂
    oh, and the other 2 questions –
    no, and no.

  • Reply
    Nina Chastain
    September 22, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Tipper, Nothing like homemade soup; I couln’t wait til fall, I made a big pot last week. I use almost the same ingredients, I like to put a little rice and some corn in mine, just got to have enough tomatoes or juice or the rice will make it too think , then you will have goolash ( spelling).,but it is still good.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    September 22, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Ok, I’m going to admit that I have never eaten okra. I wonder if it is a geographical thing because I never even heard the word till jsut a few years ago. It’s on my grocery list to get today & if I like it maybe I will plant some next year.
    Never heard that saying.
    My dad makes chili & vegetable soup in the fall & winter & I am sooo looking forward to the first bowl. Hmm, reminds me that I should give him a call & see when he will be whipping up that first batch. YUM!!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 22, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Oh my, Tipper, your making me hungry with the talk and pictures of your soup. Since I have eaten your soup I can validate for your readers that it is most excellent!!
    Last year I persuaded the Deer Hunter to “acquire” a couple of jars of your mix for me. I savored them in the cold winter months. I think it has become one of my comfort foods.
    My Grandmother, Dolly, used to can the soup base every year and it was much like yours.
    I make a lot of soup in the winter. I usually start with some bones for a rich stock. When folks ask me what kind of soup it is I tell them its Refrigerator Soup. It is never the same twice and I do literally use the leftovers from my fridge, like mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, etc. then add the fresh things like onions, mushrooms, celery (with tops)lintels and whatever else strikes my fancy that day.
    So, long way getting to your answer…soup is my fall food also.
    No, I have never heard of ugly as homemade soup and I am offended by the implication. I think homemade soup is a beautiful thing! LOL

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    September 22, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Tipper, I grew up on that soup. My mom made her base with whatever she had in the garden–tomatoes, corn, peas, green beans, butterbeans, etc. She didn’t add the onions or potatoes either. She used this base to make chicken soup, beef soup, or sometimes pasta.
    My favorite fall foods are apples and sweet potatoes. I’ve never heard the phrase ‘ugly as homemade soup’. I don’t know how we missed that one!

  • Reply
    Rachel D.
    September 22, 2010 at 9:30 am

    My grannie would make it but she would add fresh purple hull peas in it! i make it now on cold days too!

  • Reply
    September 22, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Rhonda-I’ve heard the ugly as homemade sin one too. Makes me wonder if some folks were too embarrassed to say ‘homemade sin’ and changed it too soup.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    September 22, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Tipper–Similar soup makin’s have been in our family as long as I can remember. Mom, Grandma Minnie, and more recently, Miss Ann (my wife) have put up soup mix. If you take the approach you offer and add two ingredients you’ll have a different and even heartier soup which is sure to please the deer hunter. Just add some ground venison you have browned to the soup, along with some Italian spice mix, and you have pasta e fagoli (my spelling may be off a bit, and I’m too lazy to check) soup. The recipe is in at least two of the cookbooks Miss Ann and yours truly have done, and if you want the full specifics, just let me know.
    I haven’t heard the comment “ugly as homemade soup,” but I have often heard “ugly as homemade sin.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Rhonda Haslam
    September 22, 2010 at 9:16 am

    We always had this soup at the end of the garden season when there wasn’t enough of any one thing for a canning and I can remember row upon row of the yummy stuff lined up in the basement waiting for cold weather. Nothing beats a bowl of this with a big old hunk of cornbread.
    I always heard that he was as ugly as homemade sin.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    September 22, 2010 at 9:09 am

    MMMM!!! Love homemade veggie soup and cornbread. My mom used to make it, can it. She would clean out the freezer and throw it in a pot-tomaotes, okra, beans, peas (like blackeyed), taters, onions-sometimes she’d add some ham or something. I dont’ know if she ever added pasta but I do love it in a soup. Never heard of that saying. Apple butter, soups, chili-I start thinking of these during this time.
    Wish I could come see ya’ll on Saturday, sounds like such fun!!
    Patty H.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2010 at 9:08 am

    I’m so glad that it is ‘soup time’ again! I’ve eaten soup very similar to this, except we’ve never canned the soup base. Just use fresh and frozen veggies. Seems like we never have enough okra leftover from the summer to freeze, but next year I’m determined to grow a lot of it!
    I like to make vegetable soup and if I have any leftover roast, I put that in it, but sometimes it’s just plain vegetable. And of course, a cast iron skillet of cornbread!
    I’ve never heard that saying, LOL!

  • Reply
    Vera Guthrie
    September 22, 2010 at 9:03 am

    You just made me hungry for soup and I have yet to eat breakfast! My Mama kept soup going most all winter. There is a church near by that cans the soup base to raise money. My mother-in-law buys all her boys a case each year so I get a head start. We call it Church Lady Soup. I always start with that base and add to it what may be in the fridge. I had to go out of town on a business trip once and on return it was rainy and cold, I came striaght in and started a pot of soup. When my husband got home that evening I think he was more excited about the soup than the fact I was home!

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