Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Icebox soup a tribute to my Nanny

As I was putting together this soup, I was thinking about my wonderful grandmother and all the things I learned from her.
She grew up in the first part of the 20 century and was raising a family during the Depression. She could create anything from next to nothing.
I have a pair of my fathers baby shoes she sewed for him out of an old pair of my grandfathers wore out overalls. The souls were cut from the tongue from my grandfathers work boots. She used whatever fabric scraps she could find to piece quilts to keep her family warm.
As each of her 15 grandchildren were born, she made cloths for them and every Christmas she made matching dresses and shirts for all of us. Our Christmas present from her and my grandfather was always a granny gown for all us girls and jammies for the boys. The highlight of every Christmas eve was when we opened the packages and all ran squealing to put on or new granny gowns; which we wore for the rest of the night. I'm sure the boys weren't nearly so heart broken as we girl were, when it got to be too much for her and the granny gowns stopped. But you ask anyone of use granddaughters about Christmas with Nanny and they will tell you about the granny gowns.
We all looked forward to summer when we all got to go spend a week with Nanny and granddaddy. My dad had 3 sisters, each of them had kids within a year or so of each other, 3 different times. My aunt Marie and Uncle Fred had a spare and had the oldest and youngest in the older group, so there for 5 of them.
Each group got to spend a full week sometimes two. We all waiting with great anticipation for our time to go hangout with our cousins and spend time with our grandparents.
They didn't have much but it was always so much fun! She had dolls and toys all stored in the spare bedroom. Our room. She made all the dolls had underwear made from the foot of an old sock with holes cut for the legs and then sewn together over the shoulders. Nanny hated naked baby-dolls. She passed this trait on to me. All the baby-dolls in my classrooms were required to be dressed before putting away, and several of them had Nannyware. :o)
When I was 7 my grandfather passed away and the big summer visits stopped. They were afraid Nanny couldn't handle us in big groups by herself, she had had a major stroke and heart attacks before I was born. So we went two at a time for a few years.
She was an amazing woman and I miss her dearly. Even after her health had deteriorated enough that she needed to live in a nursing home, she still set up quilting bees with the ladies there, taught crocheting, helped set up activities and led outings. She was very very active until the last 6months of her life, and lived on her own until the last 2. She was 90 when she passed away on a cool Sunday morning in October.

While Nanny could bake anyone under the table, she wasn't a particularly good cook. This recipe if you call it that, is one I got from spending weekends with her. She simply called it soup, but the rest of us called it Icebox Soup. Simply stated, whatever was in her fridge went into the soup pot. You might find ham, turkey, chicken, beef or all the above in your bowl. Sometimes there was corn, mac&cheese, spinach, beans or okra floating in it. The only negative thing I remember about staying with Nanny and Granddaddy was this soup and her mashed potatoes, which I later found out were turnips...giggle (I really like turnips now)
I have found that with the right ingredients Icebox soup is very very good and a great way to use up little bits and pieces of left overs. Nanny never threw out anything, with prices like they are now, I'm finding making this soup for lunch, very wallet friendly.

Icebox Soup


  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • any little pieces of raw veggies you have left in your veggie draw
  • tbsp butter or oil of your choice
  • Chicken or beef stock, water, wine or whatever liquid you like
  • Left over beef, pork OR poultry ( unless your like Nanny and like them all mixed up)
  • Left over veggies
  • Seasoning of choice if needed


  1. Saute onion and garlic in butter or oil. Add any bits and pieces of raw veggies you have on hand. I had a zucchini nub, 1/4 of a red pepper and 1/2 plum tomato. Saute until tender.
  2. Season. I only used salt and pepper because the meat was already seasoned.
  3. Add whatever meat you have left over, I used left over taco meat Saute a few minutes.
  4. Add stock, water, wine or whatever liquid you've chosen to use. I used chicken stock and a little red wine I had hanging out that needed to be used. Let come to a boil and then lower to simmer.
  5. Add left over veggies turn off heat and let set just long enough to heat veggies. You DO NOT want to over cook them.
  6. Ladle into your cup or bowl top with grated cheese, fresh grated parmesan, dollop of sour cream or whatever will go well with your combo. I used a little shredded Mexican blend.

This is great way to re-purpose left overs into something completely different and absolutely delicious. The trick is just cook until everything is hot. Most of your ingredients are already cooked. You just want to gently heat them. No one wants a big bowl of over cooked, mushy, bitter vegetables.

So fix you a nice bowl of Icebox soup and think of all the fond memories you have of your grandparents.


Eolande said...

Well said.

Vikki said...

Thank you. She was a wonderful woman and I miss her dearly.