Simple Montana Life

….charting my journey to a more self sufficient way of life….

Homemade Creamy Tomato Basil Soup! September 18, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — Leah @ 9:14 am

Summer is nearing an end here in Northwest Montana. The days are getting cooler and my garden is slowing down, but still has tons of fabulous fruits and veggies to harvest!

Growing up, I HATED tomatoes!! In my “old age”, it seems I can’t get enough of them! I have also found an out of control love for fresh basil. I put it in anything I possibly can! When I ran across a recipe on a homesteading blog that combined the two ingredients, I HAD to try it! My nieces and I made it the other night and we all loved it! If it can please an 8 and 9 year old, it has to be good! Right?

I found the recipe from ! You will fall in love with this dish! Especially this time of year! YUMMY! (I changed the recipe slightly from what Shaye has on her post. Here is what I did.

Homemade Tomato Basil Soup

You will need:
– 1 28 oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes (You can also use tomatoes from your own harvest!! Woot Woot!)
– 12 oz. chicken broth
– 10 oz. water
– 2 tsp. sugar
– 1 small onion
– 4 cloves garlic
– 1 cup cream
– 1/3 cup fresh basil
– Pinch of salt
– Fresh pepper

Step One: Heat a tablespoon of olive oil or butter in a soup pan. Then, dice up the onion and throw into the warm oil. Chop up 4 cloves of garlic and toss them in with the onions. Cook until just softened, maybe 5 minutes or so.

Step Two: Add the can of tomatoes to the pot, juice and all. Then, add the water, the chicken broth, and the sugar.

Step Three: Heat the soup up to a boil and then let it simmer for ten minutes.

Step Four: Add salt, pepper, and basil to the soup and puree. You can puree with an immersion blender, a regular blender, or a food processor. (Be sure to read the instructions for your blender or food processor for working with hot liquids)

Step Five: One the soup is nice and smooth, put it back on the stove and add the cream. I used about a cup. Warm the soup up again to the temperature of your liking.


Vegetable Soup/Stew Recipe September 11, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — Leah @ 1:14 am

It is such a wonderful time of year.  Summer is winding down, fall is on it’s way, and the holidays are just around the corner.  One of the things I love the most is all the fresh veggies from my garden!  I have been canning all my fresh produce like a mad woman!  It seems to all be ready to harvest around the same time (may need to do a little better planning in that area for next year!)  But as I was canning some Apple Pie Filling this afternoon, and looking around at all the fresh vegetables lying on my counter, waiting to be washed, I thought I would make a little late summer vegetable soup with what I had lying around!  I really just made this up on the fly, but it turned out fabulous, so I thought I would share!

1 lb stew meat (can be beef or venison, just cut into cubes)

3 cups water

1 can beef broth

1 packet beefy onion soup mix

1 can whole corn     *I used fresh, but trying to give you an idea of measurements*

1 can green beans   *I used fresh, but trying to give you an idea of measurements*

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves chopped garlic

1 cup chopped celery

2-3 chopped carrots

4-5 average sized red potatoes cubed

Salt and pepper to taste

I just put it all in the crock pot on high for about 4 hours!  Turned out wonderfully!!  If you are not typically a fan of venison/wild game, recipes like this may be what you need.  Adding the beef soup mix and beef broth take away from the wild game taste.  Also, rinsing your venison well before cooking helps with the “game-y” taste as well!



Homemade Laundry Soap September 4, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Leah @ 5:04 am

Over the past few months, I have begun making my own laundry soap!  I find it cleans just as well as the leading brands, but for a fraction of the cost!  Just how much cheaper you ask?  I have seen calculations online for this very recipe that put it at .01 cent per load!! Doesn’t get much better than that!  Of course the price could vary slightly depending on the prices in your area.  So here goes!  Here is the recipe I have been using and really love!



1/3 bar Fel-Naptha (found in laundry isle – you will need to shave this with a small cheese grater.  I bought one at the dollar store specifically for this purpose)

1 cup washing soda (this is DIFFERENT than baking soda, though also an arm and hammer product.  You can also find this in the laundry isle)

1 cup Borax (detergent booster, also found in laundry isle)

large bucket (at least 2 gallons)

Medium saucepan

Essential oils (optional)

Containers for your detergent (I saved a bunch of old containers from store bought laundry soap)


Melt Fels-Naptha bar shavings in 6 cup boiling water in saucepan over medium heat.  Once melted, add washing soda and borax, stirring till dissolved.

Pour 4 cups hot water into bucket.  Stir in mixture from saucepan into bucket.  Add one gallon plus 6 cups water to bucket.  Stir in 5-10 drops of desired essential oil (I use either lavender or lemon).

Let sit for 24 hours.  Mixture will be a gel like substance.  The best description I have heard is it will be an “egg noodle soup” like substance.

Pour into containers.  Shake well before use.  Use 1/2 cup per load.

I will sometimes add a little more washing soda to loads with tough stains.  This is a low sudsing soap, so don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t suds up!  I have never used it on an HE machine, but I have read many other people who have tried it with no problems!


Hope you enjoy!! Let me know what you think!



Filed under: Uncategorized — Leah @ 4:46 am

With everything taking place in our world today, I find myself compelled to find ways to be more self sufficient and self reliant.  I have had so much fun over the past few months as I began my journey.  I planted a garden this spring, started making homemade products, and canning food for my family.  Along my journey, I have shared my trials and triumphs with my friends and family.  Because of the interest they have shown in my efforts, I thought I would start a blog to chart my journey and help others along their way!  I hope you enjoy!  Please comment! I would love to hear from you!