Rhinestone Cowboy Soup

So you kittens know me around this time of year; I’m always looking for something to cook that’s either dead easy to make or makes a lot of yummy leftovers. So it thrills my soul when I discover a new dish that’s both. Yesterday morning for reasons I couldn’t begin to fathom, I woke up craving Cowboy Soup. Remember Cowboy Soup? If like me you were a Girl Scout in the 1970’s, it’s a pretty fair bet you ate it at least once, a thick soup/thin stew with hamburger meat and beans and macaroni that not even too many underage cooks dancing around an open campfire can spoil. So anyway, I took to the internet and found several different recipes, and from mashing them together and elevating the grown-up snob appeal of a few of the ingredients (a few more fresh veggies and spices, a few less cans), I came up with this. And I’ve gotta tell you, it was dang tasty. My hubs and Dad both had two bowls full, and I have enough leftovers for at least one lunch stashed in the fridge.

Rhinestone Cowboy Soup

1.5 lbs. ground chuck

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

1 red onion, chopped

1 medium-sized jalapeno pepper, finely diced without seeds or ribs

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 28-oz can of tomato puree

1 can of diced tomatoes and chilis (Rotel – the same stuff you’d use to make queso dip)

1 12-16 ounce can of black beans, undrained

1 12-16 ounce can of baked beans in sauce (I used the brand that Labrador retriever sells)

3 cups of chicken broth

1 package of frozen corn

1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of paprika

½ teaspoon of cumin

½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

 

Brown ground chuck in a big soup pot over medium-high heat until no pink remains, drain and set aside. Add oil to the pot and reduce heat to medium; sauté onion, jalapeno and garlic until the onion is soft. Add tomato puree, diced tomatoes and peppers, black beans, baked beans, chicken broth, and ground chuck, bring to a boil. Add corn, brown sugar, condiments, and spices, reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

You can add COOKED AND DRAINED macaroni (1/2 pound dry) just before serving if you want it more like the Girl Scouts version. I served mine sans pasta and with cornbread, and the hubs and I each added dollop of sour cream to our bowls to mellow out the heat a bit. If you wanted it hotter, you could leave the seeds and ribs in your jalapeno; if you want it less spicy, you could leave the pepper out altogether.

 

Something easy to cook for dinner this week – Mama’s Chili

In my continuing effort to prove that I love to eat about as much as I love to write, here’s my family recipe for chili.  I won’t ever be entering this in any Texas cook-offs; I’m sure “authentic” chili cooks will read it and faint with horror.  But it’s hot; it tastes good; it’s filling; and it’s damned easy to make, particularly on cold December nights when you’ve got way too much else to do.  You can put this together, walk away, wrap presents, have a bowl when you’re ready and leave the rest simmering for the rest of the household to grab whenever they show up.  One batch will feed at least six people.  It also keeps very well in the refrigerator and makes a great lunch the next day.

My version is adapted from my mom’s version which she adapted from her dad’s version.  (His was legendary and involved little cut-up hot dogs – we’re not talking haute cuisine here.)  My sister, Sarah, and her husband, Derek, have refined their own version that is much more sophisticated; if they invite you over to eat, by all means, go.  Just don’t look for any beans.

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

2 tablespoons dried minced onion

3 cans light red kidney beans, neither drained nor rinsed (12 ounces, maybe? the ‘normal’ sized cans, not the great big ones)

4 cans tomato sauce (8 ounces, I think – the small cans)

4 tomato sauce cans water

1 generous teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin (if you have it – don’t buy it special for this; it tastes fine without it)

1 tablespoon mustard (like you’d put on a hot dog, not dried)

3 drops Texas Pete hot sauce (do buy this special – other hot sauce might work; I just don’t know how to measure it)

Sour cream, saltine crackers, pepper jack or sharp chedder cheese, all optional condiments

Start at least an hour before you plan to eat.  Brown the ground beef with the minced onion in a large, heavy pot, drain the fat, return to pot.  Add beans, tomato sauce, water, chili powder, cumin, mustard, and Texas Pete, stir until well combined.  Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.

My favorite way to eat this is to cut pepper jack cheese in 1/2 inch cubes, put a handful in the bottom of a deep bowl, cover with chili, garnish with a dollop of sour cream.  Some of my family just add crushed saltine crackers.  My husband, who had never had chili before he married me, likes both cheese and crackers.