As this is being written a cold north wind is whipping with enough strength to make the actual temperature of 40 degrees feel like it is below freezing, and nighttime forecasts call for the low 20s without factoring in the wind chill. Mind you, after too much warmth in December and enough rain to qualify as what mountain folks of my youth described as a “young Noah,” the cold is welcome. It is also appreciated because it translates to hearty soup and stew season. Today, and over the next few Wednesdays, dishes of that type will take center stage.

Shrimp Gravy

While not exactly a soup or stew, shrimp gravy falls into the general category of liquid lusciousness and certainly merits the description “hearty.”

You’ll need:

1 cup olive oil

2 large sweet onions, chopped

½ cup all-purpose flour

4 cups milk

½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley

2 pounds deveined peeled shrimp

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté the onions until translucent. Add the flour and stir until well blended.

Whisk in two cups of the milk and stir until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the remaining two cups of milk until the mixture once again begins to thicken. Add the parsley and shrimp. Simmer for five minutes or until the shrimp turn pink. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve over grits, rice, pasta, or biscuits. Serves six.

Vegetable And Venison Soup

A rich, steaming bowl of soup makes mighty fine fare, and that’s doubly the case if it is served with a piping hot pone of cornbread fresh from the oven.

You’ll need:

1 or 2 ham hocks, or a ham bone with a bit of meat left

5 ½ cups water

1 pound venison steak, cut into chunks

2 (16-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 large onion, chopped

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

5 medium-sized carrots, thinly sliced

6-7 large celery ribs, chopped

5-6 medium potatoes, cubed

1 (20-ounce) package frozen green beans

1 (20-ounce) package frozen corn

1 10-ounce) package frozen lima beans

½ cup barley

1 teaspoon sugar

½ medium head cabbage, sliced


In a large soup pot, place ham hocks (or ham bone), water, venison, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and onion. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for two hours or until meat begins to fall apart. Remove the soup bone and add all ingredients except cabbage. Cook until potatoes are tender. Add cabbage and cook until cabbage is tender.

Serve with cornbread or, if you prefer, crusty French bread. This yields six quarts and is ideal for a hunt camp or a large gathering of friends. It also freezes well.


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