Diane’s Venison Soup Credit: Sandy Oliver

Hunting season is in full swing, and freezers all over Maine are filling with deer and moose meat, lots of which is ground into ever-handy burger.

Last winter, just after I wrote about Hamburger Soup in this column, Diane Laing, who appreciated the recipe’s versatility, sent along her version.

“I did not have any beef hamburg, but did have venison,” she wrote.

Diane included the canned tomatoes, onion, garlic and rice, then tossed in some leftover green beans and a small can of creamed corn. Of course, you might have a half a cup of leftover carrots or peas, or a rib of celery in desperate need of being used. This soup can use it all.

I gave Diane’s version a try, and because it is the end of the growing season, I had the last cob’s worth of corn kernels and some small green peppers to add. A neighbor closing her house for the season passed me a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes which I used. You could use a larger size can if you like.

Diane wisely keeps “assorted rice in the freezer just for soups,” which she adds. I’ve always regarded cooked rice as money in the bank. I add it to soup for sure, and eat it with a soft boiled egg at breakfast, put a couple of spoonfuls in pancakes, and use it for fried rice when I have a small piece of meat to use, some vegetables for stir fry and an egg.

The soup is thick. When I was growing up we called soups like this “stoup” because they were stews as much as soups. Use herbs generously and remember it is better the second day. Offer crusty bread or plain old saltines to go with it. Heat it up and find a cozy corner to curl up with a mug of it while the temperature outside turns unseasonably cold. You’ll find it wholesome and hearty.

Diane’s Venison Soup

6 servings

1 pound ground venison

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 14-ounce, or larger, can whole plum tomatoes

2-3 cups chicken broth, or more to taste

1 teaspoon basil

½ teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon thyme

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ -⅓ cup cooked rice

1. Put the ground meat into a heavy soup pot and brown it.

2. Add onions and garlic, and cook with the meat for about five minutes, or until they are soft.

3. Add tomatoes, breaking them up with the back of a spoon. Add broth and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

4. Add the herbs, pepper and rice. Simmer for another 15 minutes

5. Taste and add more herbs to taste and salt if desired. Serve right away or set aside for a few hours and reheat.

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Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...