There seem to be many blog posts all about cooking 5, 10, or um, even 20 meals in one day and freezing them all and eating easy for a week (or a month, year, lifetime, etc.). While this appeals to me it’s generally impossible for my family to do because we lack the freezer space. Our freezer is mostly full of frozen fruit from the summer.
Everyone has their priorities, but I would appreciate having a bunch of meals that I could make in a day and then eat simply by pulling them out of the freezer in the morning and stuffing in a crock pot. Alas, I don’t think we’ll have the freezer space any time soon. Furthermore most of those meals I see feature large amounts of meat, and we prefer to not eat large amounts of meat all the time. However, we do have pantry space and a pressure canner….
This summer I was on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website (yes, very long name, shall we just refer to it as the Food Pres site? No, I agree, we will keep referring to it by it’s easy name, the National Center for Home Food Preservation) and I came across directions for canning soup. Let’s all read what it said together, because if they said it’s safe then it works for me!
They go on:
And then the table:
Thanks to that info I have felt sufficiently confident this harvest season (which, from what I can tell just ended) that I can cook up delicious soups like Cream of Broccoli, sans the cream, can the heck out them, and stick ‘em on the shelf until we need a quick and easy meal. Now, you’re thinking to yourself, “well I have a huge empty freezer so I’m going to stop reading and just freeze me some soup and I will take the time to defrost it and cook it for an easy dinner” and that’s fine for you but like I said before, I don’t have the room in my freezer. But really even that’s not why this appeals to me. For me it’s the convenience of food in a jar.
How I Arrived Here:
Two months ago I came home from the market garden I volunteered at over the summer with the biggest zucchini ever. It was a nasty ogre of a zuke. It barely fit in my bike’s saddle bag and I had an even harder time figuring out what on earth to do with it, besides take a picture of it on my rustic wood table….
Next time I’ll put something next to it to show how big it was.
Anyways, point of the story is I ended up cooking a pretty big batch of Cream of Zucchini and Potato soup and decided to stick it in jars and pressure can it. I then stuck the jars in the basement pantry until a few weeks later when we were in a hurry to eat and we decided to have one. It was great! Compared to eating a frozen meal which either requires forethought or liberal use of the microwave, this soup was simply cracked open (easier than Campbell’s) and heated up on the stove. A bit of cream was added and we had a simple, tasty dinner of soup and leftover bread.
Then I started feeling sad that we had one less jar of soup in the basement. (These are the kinds of things that make me sad, I know, lame). So I started scheming (my word for planning, and others call it “prepping”). Next up came Cream of Broccoli with a few heads of broccoli that I had forgotten in the fridge. They were nearing the end of their freshness but made a great soup and got us three more large jars to add to the pantry supply. We enjoyed one of them a few weeks later when in a rush again for a meal. And once again I was very pleased with the results but also sad at the declining supply of easy meals on the pantry shelf.
This past Saturday I came home from the market with what will likely be the last broccoli of the season. I bought quite a bit. I had ridden my bike to the market and had a lot of trouble fitting everything in my bike saddle bags and backpack. It also snowed while I was there and I rode home on snowy roads. It was kind of absurd, but also fun!
On Sunday afternoon I washed the broccoli, cooked up a large pot of Cream of Broccoli without cream (look back at the instructions from the National Center for Home Food Preservation website and see that cream does not go in the jars), and then canned it to smithereens! Well, not quite, but I did can it. I mean I can did it. I mean, you can do it. No, the first was right. Well, the last was true too, I can and so can you can! Even Toucan, Pelican, Pecan, and Republican. Okay, enough gibberish and rambling, see below!
(Canned) Cream of Broccoli
Recipe from (IMO) the most useful cookbook ever.
Enough to can 6-8 quarts/liters (I got 7, which is just between 6 and 8).
- 1-2 Tbs. olive oil (be sure to keep oil to a minimum when canning)
- 3-5 onions, chopped
- 4-5 celery stalks, chopped
- 5-7 lbs broccoli, washed and coarsely chopped
- 1 gallon (16 cups) broth (chicken or vegetable)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- No cream now, but when you cook up your canned soup later, add ¼ – ½ cup cream or milk
- Dash of nutmeg when you cook up later.
Heat oil and fry up onions and celery until beginning to soften. Add broccoli, and stir briefly with the onions and celery. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Because you’re about to cook this under extreme pressure you do not need to fully cook the broccoli, just get it soft enough to puree with an immersion blender or working in batches in the food processor (I’m thankful for a lovely neighbor who lent me her immersion blender! I shall have to give her one of my precious jars of soup…). Add salt and pepper to taste and get ready to can! Keep the soup at simmer.
- 8 quart/liter jars
- 8 lids
- 8 rings
- Pressure canner (we have this one)
Wash and sterilize jars, lids, and rings. Prepare pressure canner by filling with water to recommended fill line and boiling. Heat jars in 220◦ oven or in boiling water. Fill jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Clean the tops of the jars and attach lids and rings. Put lid on canner, blow steam out for 10 minutes to get all air out of the canner. Attach pressure regulator and process quarts/liters under 11 PSI for 75 minutes. Make sure to allow the pressure to completely drop before opening the canner to remove the cans. When they are cool (hey man, they were always cool, wait, what?) the next day remove the rings and store until you need an easy meal!
Instructions in Photo Form:
FYI: The intense heat of the pressure canning process may cause the soup to lose its nice green color. The flavor won’t be effected but if you’re wanting soup that retains its color try making a soup with vegetables of a different color.