This is another one of those recipes you’ll never find in any self-respecting cookbook. It uses canned broth and frozen veggies and plain old hamburger. But it’s cheap; it’s hot; it tastes pretty darn good, and on cold winter Tuesday nights when you need to feed and warm a lot of people, it’s a great fix. The measurements are all vague, and that’s on purpose; use what you’ve got, and it’ll be fine. (As a kid, whenever I heard that “Stone Soup” story, I always thought of Mama’s veggie beef soup.)
I’ve added the “recipe” for making cornbread from a mix at the bottom just so you can see what you’ll need – this soup is best with freshly baked buttermilk cornbread.
1 to 2 pounds of ground beef
a generous sprinkling of dried minced onion
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 diced tomatoes can of water
1 medium-sized can of chicken broth (bigger than a Campbell’s soup can, not so much as a full carton)
3-4 beef bouillon cubes
1 can of diced, cooked potatoes, drained
1 bag of frozen vegetables (corn, peas, carrots, green beans – you can usually find these labelled as a soup mix – PLEASE NO CANNED VEG-ALL)
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or rosemary or marjoram if you have one of those instead, or any blend of any of these that you like)
Salt and pepper to taste (I like freshly cracked pepper, but it’s not necessary, and taste it before you salt it; that canned broth and bouillon will add a lot of salt already)
4 tablespoons of butter (half a stick)
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
At least an hour before you want to eat, brown ground beef with minced onion in a large, heavy pot. Drain fat, return to the pot. Add tomatoes, water, chicken broth, bouillon cubes, potatoes, frozen vegetables, thyme, salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer vigorously for at least 45 minutes. Melt butter in the microwave, stir in cornstarch until smooth. Add to the soup and stir in thoroughly. Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 10-15 minutes longer. Serve with cornbread, go to bed warm and full, sleep like a rock.
Cornbread (I use Martha White Buttermilk Cornmeal Mix, and this is the recipe on the bag)
1 large egg
1 & 1/3 cup of milk
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
2 cups of cornmeal mix
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray an 8- or 9-inch cast iron skillet with cooking spray, put it in the oven to warm for about eight minutes. Beat egg in a medium-sized bowl. Add milk, oil, and cornmeal, beat until smooth. Batter should pour easily; if it doesn’t, add a little more milk, just a splash. Pour batter into skillet, bake 20-25 minutes. Turn out on a plate and slice into wedges. Some people butter and dip; I just crumble mine up unbuttered into my soup.
If you have any leftovers, this is also really good for breakfast the next morning buttered and toasted under the broiler. Just slice each wedge open like you would to butter it, open it up, butter each piece, and put it under the broiler for about a minute until it browns.