It's true: There's nothing like hot, homemade soup on a chilly winter day. And here's a recipe for one soup — containing suet and lots of vegetables — that I especially enjoy:
First, cut a half cup to a full cup of suet (most supermarket meat departments will give it to you free!) into very small pieces and place the bits of fat in the bottom of a large (at least 6 quarts) pot or kettle. Simmer over low heat until the suet begins to liquefy and turn clear.
Next, add about 2 quarts of tomatoes to the pot, along with an equal amount of water (and/or leftover vegetable juices). Cut or slice one large onion, two stalks of celery, one or two carrots, two big potatoes, and a half pound of string beans into small chunks and add them to the kettle ... then stir in a cup of peas and a quarter pound or so of barley, plus any other ingredients you think the soup should have. Salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer the vegetable-containing broth for a couple of hours, or a couple of days ... whichever. Then, just before you're ready to serve it up, make some old-fashioned dumplings:
In a clean bowl — one that has a flat bottom, so you can work — break an egg, beat it, and slowly stir into the bowl a dry mixture consisting of half a cup of flour, one teaspoon of baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Continue to beat with a fork until — when all the flour has been added (and, possibly, a little bit extra) — you have a bowl full of dry, lumpy "dumplings". Add these to your soup and simmer another 15 minutes ... then serve!
(If you have an especially large amount of soup, you may want to double the dumpling recipe.)
This simple but hearty soup will keep you as warm as any fire will, without burning a hole in your pocketbook!