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Mennonite recipe: Miriam Weldy’s Tomato Juice Soup

June 28, 2014


I think it was when my father took ill in 2006 (in what became his last illness) that I first tasted Miriam’s tomato soup. Miriam is my mother’s first cousin and she lives at the same retirement complex (different buildings) and has been a great companion and confidant for Mom these past years as they both deal with the issues of aging, and life becomes more confined (Miriam has macular degeneration and Mom has hearing degeneration).P1050738

Mom talking with cousin Miriam

But in 2006, Miriam was still cooking and brought over some of her delicious homemade tomato soup for the family because she knew Mom and the rest of us were busy scurrying back and forth between home and hospital, and then nursing care for Dad. (Dad died March 26 of that year.) It was a thoughtful gift of the kind you welcome when dealing with the stress of serious illness, and it tasted so good. With its bounty of chopped onions, carrots and celery added in, and with a grilled cheese sandwich or shredded cheese on top, it makes a pretty complete meal. At the bottom of Miriam’s recipe she says “Sometimes I add finely chopped broccoli.” Mother was so happy for the soup and her enthusiasm caused me to fall in love with it too.

I got the recipe right then and there and later tried making some for my family at home, some of whom love tomato soup just out of the can. My daughter was living at home at the time. She was not impressed. Oooh. Too sweet! Too much sugar!

On my recent visit to Mom’s she had a request. Well several requests, as mothers do when their children come home, but this was in the food category. “Can you make me a batch of Miriam’s soup to put in my freezer?”

Love to. And here it is. We modified the amount of sugar and it was delicious.

Miriam calls her recipe “Tomato Juice Soup” because it is built off of plain old canned tomato juice. Miriam’s friends and relatives have argued about what cookbook it is published in and have scoured her church’s recipe book (Holdeman Mennonite Church) to no avail. So, unless someone else can find it somewhere, you read it here first!

Miriam Weldy’s Tomato Juice Soup

1 15 ounce can tomato juice
¼ cup sugar (original said ½ cup but we think that is too sweet)
1 stick butter
1 ½ cups water
½ cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped carrots
Optional: ½ cup finely chopped broccoli

(Note, additional ingredients of water, milk, salt and pepper listed in directions below.)

In a large pot heat tomato juice. Add water, celery, onions, carrots and sugar. Cook.

P1050755In a shaker, add an additional 1 cup water and ½ cup flour. Shake. Add to the mixture carefully and stir until thickened. Then add ½ cup milk (or cream), and stir frequently. Add ½ teaspoon salt and pepper, or to taste. Add the butter. Stir. Simmer on very low for ½ hour or whatever time you have, stirring frequently. When serving add shredded cheese for topping or sliced cheese on side.




Mom also wanted me to help her try out her handy dandy new vegetable chopper, which she thought might be easier to use than a small electrical chopper that took a lot of assembling and cleaning up. Well guess what, this one did too, and for the record, was hard enough for me to chop through carrots, she definitely did not have the strength to use it at the age of 89. Just sayin’. So the handy dandy chopper is now mine.

What do you use to chop vegetables? Cutting board and knife? Electrical chopper? One of those choppers “As Sold on TV”?


Natalie Francisco included a lovely tomato bisque recipe (adapted from a French restaurant) for a Tomato Basil Soup in my Whatever Happened to Dinner book a few years ago that I need to try sometime too! If you wonder (like I did) what is the difference between a bisque and a soup (besides sounding fancier), it includes cream or in this recipe butter. Check out my link to the definition which includes the note that “some thick soups made with vegetables, poultry or meat are sometimes referred to as bisques.” So you could probably call this soup a bisque if you want it to sound like a French restaurant.

For other favorite recipes see my book, Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections on Family Mealtime.



From → Food, Recipes

  1. Ema Jones permalink

    Stay fit with Chicken Ceaser Salad

  2. I love your collage of recipes and relatives: oldies but goodies. I’ve heard that tomatoes are more nutritious cooked or baked than in a salad. You probably would know why that is so from a nutritional perspective.

    Great post, Melodie. By the way, at Mother’s this week I found a piece you wrote for the PURPOSE magazine on the theme of retirement. Enjoyed it too.

    • Yes I’ve heard that too about tomatoes–which is interesting–usually it is the other way around with veggies, right? And I’m not a nutritionist or anything but I know I’ve read that too. Glad you found the piece in Purpose. That was a good issue with a lot of different perspectives. I’m enjoying your “visit with mother” too.

  3. Beverly Silver permalink

    Melodie, Thanks for the tomato soup recipe I copied it and it is in my recipe file. One comment. From the photo, it might be interesting to use a handheld sort of mixer/blender ( I have one ( a Braun) that blends the lumps in my butternut squash soup) Also, I have one of the choppers you showed. Onions are fine – cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. I wouldn’t do carrots either. And you have to hold down the hinge part of the chopper when you push down on the opposite end . Mine got broken at church when we were chopping something with the youth but I went out and got another one that works! I really do like mine! Thanks for the recipe! Beverly

    • Glad to know you want to try this, Bev, and thanks for the feedback on the chopper thing. Yes, carrots were a bit much. I have never tried the hand held mixer blender–I guess I should borrow from the girls. Was it Rebecca Held’s wedding shower where there were 4 or 5 of them given by mistake?!

  4. Margaret Kauffman permalink

    In my cookbook, it is now named “Bertha Miller’s Tomato Soup”

  5. Athanasia permalink

    The tomato soup recipe sounds good, similar to a popular one in a small local restaurant here. We have been trying to figure out the recipe for years. So will try this and see how close it comes. I use my home canned tomato juice as a base for lentil soup, vegetable soup and chili, same as my mother did.

    I was given a food processor by children about 3 years ago. I basically only use it to make hummus. I am sure it could do much more for me if I tried. I was also 7-8 years ago given one of those “slap type choppers”. It have tried it but hurts my hand too much…too jarring. Have RA. Have not used for years.

    My favorite chopping method is just to gather everything up and sit at the kitchen table, put a DVD into the laptop or click onto HULU and start chopping away using a freshly sharpened chef type knife. Somethings I use a 6″ blade serrated knife, like if I want onions really uniform in size. I like to multi prepare several things at one time…saves time and effort. Saturday I made cold “American”
    potato salad (chopped celery, cucumber, radishes and onion), yogurt cucumber salad (slice cucumbers, minced onion), baked beans (chopped onions), vegetable kabobs ( onion, bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini) . I just line up the bowls or pans and throw the respective prepared vegetables in the right one. I keep a container in the vegetable drawer that always has chopped onion in it. That way if I want some to add to a dish, just take what needed and I don’t have to stop and chop up an onion.

    The hand chop method just works well for me…I usually cook in the evenings (I work days/librarian) and the children are grown so I have plenty of free time. If it takes me an hour to hand chop all the vegetables for my pickle relish recipe or hand dice the tomatoes for salsa, so be it, I’m not going anywhere.

  6. I finally have a really good chef type knife that makes chopping relatively easy, in terms of clean up. I like your idea of listening to music in the background etc. I like your tips too for keeping chopped onion ready to go. Do you think it spoils faster that way, once it is chopped up? Sometimes I think so but wondered what your experience is.

    • Athanasia permalink

      Onions have never spoiled for me but use them daily. I cook from scratch most if the time.

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