Daily Archives: October 8, 2009
Of all the things families share, recipes for certain food dishes evoke some of the strongest memories. In my immediate circle of brothers and sisters, the words “rag soup” will bring forth a chorus of “ooooohs” and “mmmmms”, along with “who’s making it?”…this way we know who’s house to head to to get some. My mother used to make this soup when we were growing up, and we loved it…my grandmother used to make it for my dad and his brothers, and so far as I know, their grandma made it too. (This may have come down from a long way back on the Fisher side of our family, I will be checking with my dad just to be sure.) The name comes from tearing the noodle strips into pieces and dropping them in the broth, giving them the appearance of rags floating in water.
We kids always called this dish and Macaroni, Bacon and Eggs (that’s another post) “Poor People Food”…it’s cheap to make, tastes wonderful and fills you up. When you don’t have a lot of money but have a lot of mouths to feed, these dishes are a God send. Most of us kids don’t have as many mouths to feed as our parents did, and we make Rag Soup just because…not only is it nostalgic, but it’s just down right yummy.
At the request of many friends and acquaintances, I am posting the recipe here, but a caveat: this recipe is not necessarily the way everyone makes this soup. People in my family make it different ways…and you may end up seeing that in the comment section, infact I invite my family members to post their variations. If and when you decide to make this yourself, if you tweak it, share your tweaks. This soup is terribly, wonderfully open to tweaking.
Without further adieu, here we go…first, a couple pictures…I apologize that I don’t show you how to do everything step by step. Blogging my culinary adventures was not something I had in mind when I bought my digital camera…now I’m wishing I had one on par with Bakerella or Pioneer Woman…I have the skills, the equipment is just lacking. Bear with me, someday I’ll get there. The other thing is that these photos are not cleaned up…there is still flour on the ladle and on the pot…I was cooking, and taking a couple of pictures was a last minute thing.
For the Broth
3 quarts (96 oz.) tomato juice (I use the stuff I can myself, and when that’s lacking, Campbell’s.)
1 quart water
3 heaping TBSP Ham Base (I get mine at Gordon Food Service. If you don’t have ham base, ham broth is just fine, use two quarts, or 64 oz, and omit the water.)
Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot (I use a 12 quart) and cook over medium heat until ham base dissolves. Turn heat to low and let broth mixture simmer.
For the Noodles:
5 C all purpose flour
1/4 C. milk
Pinch of salt, optional
Whisk eggs and milk together in a large bowl. Add flour, 1 cup at a time until ingredients are combined. You should have a ragged dough ball, with maybe some floury pieces left in the bowl. At this point you can add a tsp. of milk or so and knead the dough to pick up the floury pieces, or leave it as is. Divide dough in half. On a well floured surface, roll out half the dough to 1/4″ thickness, like you would a pie crust. With a sharp knife, cut the dough in strips about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide. They do not have to be perfect. One strip at a time, tear pieces off and toss them in the pot of broth. Stir with a large spoon after each strip has been torn into pieces and added. Repeat with second dough ball. Cover stockpot and let the soup simmer for 2-3 hours on low. This gives the noodles time to cook and become fabulously tender. That’s it, it’s ready to go, now go enjoy a bowl of this hearty yumminess!
If you like, you can scale this recipe up and down. You can make more noodles, or less. Just try to keep the ratio of eggs and flour about 1:1. I like to use the extra egg myself, that’s why the recipe I gave you varies. You can use chicken broth in place of the ham broth as well…or any broth really…my personal preference (and the way I teach people to make this) is with ham broth. It imparts a smoky flavor, and I think it adds a bit of heartiness to a meatless dish.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family and I do… if you’re coming over from Facebook, you will now understand when you see a bajillion Fisher kids saying “OMG Yum!!” “I want some!!” when someone posts that they’re making this in their status bars.