Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Monday, March 17, 2014

Family traditions in a bowl of soup

One day at work, while reading through the local small town newspapers, I came across an awesome story about a new local product and was immediately captivated. A little investigating and I found only one place to find this delightful homemade soup, the little market in a nearby small town, the Nodaway Valley Market. So off I set on a lovely Friday afternoon to acquire a couple jars.

Once I had my soup in hand I made my way home so I could check it out! But before we get to soup tasting, I'd like to share the family's story with you, and the history of the farming community they have lived in for generations.

The community of Avondale is a rural area in Southwest Adair County, Iowa. Over the years it was a crossroads of frontier commerce and of the last century a church, one room school, and a church cemetery. The Mormon Trail passed through this area with one significant landmark being a very small cemetery plot containing the graves of those that failed to make it through one winter's lodging on the banks of the Nodaway River. The school, Washington Number 6, once standing across the parking lot of the Church, was removed in the early 1960s.

The focal point of the Avondale Community was the Avondale United Methodist Church, which lives on into its second century of service to its parishioners. Still an active church,the Avondale Church conducts Sunday services as well as Sunday school classes. In years past the church was very active with youth fellowship gatherings, vacation Bible school, church bazaars, as well as many other church community socials. An annual bazaar remains the church's most significant annual event and fund raiser.

The community of Avondale, while anchored by the church, is populated by farming families that, through the years, provided grain and livestock to the markets in Iowa and Nebraska. The sense of community was fostered through community gatherings for the ladies, the Sunshine Club, and for the youth, the township 4H Club. Family gatherings to play ball, picnic, and have a weiner roast were common in the yards of the Avondale Church and school.

The Avondale Church still stands tall on a small rise above the road bed running just below it. The Avondale Cemetery rests at the top of the hill behind the church. Both stand as reverent symbols of the community and its people that they have served for nearly two centuries and will continue to do so in the years ahead.

Ruth's kids celebrate a great Avondale's Best Vegetable Soup Launch Day with 
Nodaway ValleyMarket store managers, Cindy and Al Baldago
 in Fontanelle, Iowa.

Ruth's daughter, Marilyn Ford, ladles up some delicious Avondale's
Best Vegetable Soup
 for a customer at Nodaway Valley Market.

For over 60 years Ruth Menefee worked in the kitchen of her home creating delightful meals and treats for her husband Bob, their five children, fourteen grandchildren, and a quickly expanding brood of great grandchildren. Her recipes for soups,pies,cakes,cookies and other goodies were a compilation of her mother, sisters in law, and the ladies of the Avondale Church community.

So what is the verdict ?? 

This is a very family friendly soup. Not spicy, so it's great for kids. The tomato broth was a little sweet for me but a splash of hot sauce and couple grinds of black pepper, bit of fresh herbs brings out the homemade flavor. This is NOTHING like canned soup. I was blown away by the freshness of the vegetables! They were not overcooked and mushy like canned soups. Out of the jar they tasted like I made this from homemade myself. Even the pasta was still pretty firm. I loved the texture of those veggies! That made the soup a winner for me. I'd definitely make it again, maybe add some cooked hamburger or leftover roast beef chunks and just kick up the heat a little since we don't have little palates to worry about here.

I'd like to thank the folks at Avondale's Best Soups. When I contacted them for permission to use pictures and information from their website they were VERY accommodating and helpful. Just what you'd expect from Iowa families' values. Without their generosity with pictures and information, this post would have been a whole lot less interesting.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this on your blog and giving your input on the flavor, texture, etc. Someone living away from the area, unbiased, giving us your opinion. It is so important to have consumers give their input.

    I have had a chance to finally check out more of your blog. You have a good thing going.