I have been making this soup for about 7 years now and “hearty” is always the word that comes to mind as I make it and as I eat it. It is an incredibly simple recipe. It is full of incredibly simple ingredients. It tastes anything but simple.
It is hearty.
I had to refer to the dictionary just to see how the word is officially defined. There are seven different ways listed that this adjective could be used, referring both to physical and emotional situations. As I looked through the list, the one that seemed to best fit a comfort food like this was “substantial, abundant, nourishing.” The ground beef and potatoes cover substantial, the vegetables and broth cover nourishing, and the amount of soup this recipe makes covers abundant.
But it was another group of words that may better describe how this soup makes me feel: “genuine, sincere, heartfelt”.
Those are not words typically used when referring to a meal. I think they fit this recipe so well because I have an emotional tie to it. Almost seven years ago, I lost my dad. As it is for most, it was a very sad and difficult time for my family. We got through that time by the grace of God and knowing that we would be reunited with him “in the blink of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). We were also surrounded by extended family and friends who supported us with good memories, kind words and food. The community in which I was raised knew when words fail, food sustains. For days, we would receive quick visits from friends and neighbors who “just stopped by to give a hug and drop this off”. If we weren’t at the house, we would return to a pan or two sitting by the door. Casseroles, baked goods, meat and cheese trays and, yes, soup.
There was love in every bag, bowl or disposable pan.
I don’t know if it was the “meat and potatoes” nature of this soup that gave me the comfort from losing my farmer father, but comfort is what I got. One of my mom’s closest friends made it for us and I remember thinking as I ate it for the first time, “why does this soup taste so good?” I think she poured all of her best memories of time spent with my parents into making that soup. I could taste that it was genuine, sincere, and heartfelt. Every single time I make this soup, I think of Darlene, of all the other comfort food and the people who delivered it, and especially of my dad.
There’s another definition of hearty that caught my eye: completely devoted and wholehearted.
That’s my dad.
He was hearty too.