Sunday, February 16, 2014

Lazy Man’s Vegetable Meatball Soup from Dean (Miranda) James

Our guest author today is Dean James. Many of you know Dean well. He's been kind enough to guest post for us a few times already. To see Dean's past guest posts and recipes, for Country Fried Steak and Lemon Ice Box Pie, click here and here.

As you may have guessed from those recipes, Dean is a Southerner, a seventh-generation Mississippian, long transplanted to Texas. He writes under his own name as well as other pseudonyms, including the New York Times best-selling Miranda James. Please help me welcome Dean back to our Kitchen. ~ Cleo

When the weather turns cold and rainy, I get this craving for soup. Usually vegetable soup. 

When I was in graduate school eons ago, one of my aunts canned vegetable soup mix for me. It was wonderful, with veggies fresh out of the garden: string beans, butter beans, Crowder peas, corn, tomatoes, and sometimes potatoes. (Never okra because I don’t like okra, no how, no way.) I’d take one of these quart jars, get some ground beef and make meatballs of it, then add them and some of the juice from the meatballs to my crockpot along with the soup mix, and I’d have lunch and dinner for a couple of days. 

For a graduate student in the humanities on a limited budget, this was some really fine eatin’, let me tell you.

My aunt no longer has a garden and doesn’t can vegetables, so when I get a craving for vegetable soup now, I do it the lazy man’s way....

Lazy Man’s Vegetable Meatball Soup

Buy a bag of seasoned meatballs out of the freezer section at the grocery store, 15-ounce cans of vegetables from the veggie aisle, and some chicken broth. Dump it all in the two-gallon crockpot, add black pepper, and let it cook on high for about 3 hours. Lots of good eating from that.

In case you’re wondering what veggies I buy, here’s the list:

2 cans of diced tomatoes (usually with spices added, like basil and garlic)

1 can of corn

1 can of Purple Hull peas

1 can of string beans

1 can of diced potatoes

My series character, Charlie Harris, is lucky enough to have a housekeeper who cooks most of his meals. If he wants vegetable soup, then Azalea Berry will make it from fresh veggies, unlike me. Charlie and his sidekick Diesel, the Maine Coon cat, have a new adventure, The Silence of the Library, which came out January 28th.

* * * * * * * * * * 

To learn more about 
Dean/Miranda James and
his NY Times best-selling
Cat in the Stacks mysteries,
drop by his web site


  1. Now this sounds like a soup even I could make!

  2. Dean, your aunt's canned veggie soup sounds so amazing! But I think we'd enjoy yours too...while reading SILENCE OF THE LIBRARY, of course!

  3. Dean - Thanks again for joining us today. We love your stories, your recipes--and especially your books. Cheers and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

    ~ Cleo

  4. What a lovely aunt! This sounds delicious. In these parts, a lot of people have gone back to big gardens and canning. I'm not much of a canner, but I wonder if once couldn't do the same thing by freezing vegetables together.

    Congrats on hitting the NYTs list with Silence of the Library, Dean!!!


  5. Great to see you here, Dean/Miranda! This is a very practical recipe that sounds delish. I like the idea of tossing in those meatballs.

    Congrats on your great success with TSOTL - top of the NYT! Rock on!.



  6. Thanks for visiting today, Dean! This sounds like something even my husband could put together lol. I adore soup--it's my favorite part of winter. This sounds like something I could make and take to work to make my co-workers jealous.

  7. Sounds yummy. The only tjing my mother did was fig preseves but they were the bestest. Funny thing is she was Italian born and raised but not a cook. Love the series and Diesel. Flo, our Norwegian Forest Cat we inherited from a friend has a crush on him. Wish she would bring HIM her pigeon kills. Hopefullygs

  8. Hi, Dean/Miranda: This real is a lazy soup, but what fun and so easy! I'm sure it will appeal to a number of our readers! Thanks for joining us. And congrats on yet another NYT bestseller!!!

    ~ From your other brother Daryl (LOL) aka Avery

  9. Anyone who loves homemade vegetable soup must write great books. Going to give this cozy a try for sure!! Ronna Lord

  10. I love this series! The soup sounds delicious!

  11. I've been making a version of this soup for a while....calling it Cowboy Soup....a can of this, a can of that. It's always good. "Cowboy" because on the range the cook makes a meal mostly out of cans. I usually used ground beef, but I like your idea of meatballs also.

  12. I love the sound of your soup. I also make a version of this soup but use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables! Kids eat it well, so that's a plus. Thanks for a great series, I love Diesel. I've been a "Cat Who" fan for years, you've taken her place!

  13. I like easy soups & the meatballs add hearty to the soup. I make a basic easy chicken tortilla soup in the crockpot for chilly days. I may add this for when son visits. Love your series - all of them. But this one is my favorite. Love & support libraries!

  14. I am glad I found a fellow southerner that doesn't like okra either. Just eww! in any fashion. Love your books and the soup sounds really good.

  15. Jeannie, so glad you found my recipe ... and my books! Thanks!