Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hobo Soup with Hamburger and Vegetables

I had forgotten this recipe was waiting in the wings of my "new post" file. I know I harp on and on about soups. But, honestly, they they are surprisingly, even amazingly, easy to prepare. They are nourishing. They use the most humble and inexpensive of ingredients. For some reason, people seem intimidated by making soups. Really, it's just about chopping and dumping. What could be easier?

I love the two vowels ... "o" and "u" supported by the the consonants ... "s" and "p." To me, soups are like poetry ... they insist on inspiration and creativity ... how to use what you have on hand ... how to understand ... your own experience ... ingredient by ingredient ... word by word ... Potatoes? Add it in. Or pasta. This is your poem. And, yes, you can do it. You will do it. And, trust me, all the flavors will rhyme.

This was a hearty and satisfying soup dashed together with ingredients I had on hand. (Had I bit of green pepper, I would have used it.) I love the canned combo of corn with okra and tomatoes. (Heated by itself, it's fun to put over white rice with a bit of shrimp and ham on the side.)

I suppose this is best categorized as a "hobo soup," which is any soup thrown together by opening up some cans. I enjoyed the simplicity of a veggie stock. I felt both chicken and beef stock a bit too overpowering. Don't omit the fennel, it's what raises humble hamburger to a kind of Italian-sausage level. The cream mellows all the flavors. I sprinkled each bowl with a liberal amount of smoked Gouda. Any cheese would work as well. Or none.

Served with a hefty chunk of crusty bread for soaking, sit back and enjoy your poem. As with any soup, this just gets better a day or two later.

  • 3/4 cup ground beef
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 3-4 medium garlic cloves, smashed, skins removed, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 rib celery, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste --- several squirts from a tube
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme flakes
  • 2 pinches dried red pepper flakes--or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1, 14.5-oz can corn/okra/tomatoes
  • 1 can rinsed, seasoned butter beans
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 1 good teaspoon beef granules ...
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Cheese for garnish
  • 1-2 tablespoons cream

Add a bit of olive oil to a stock pot. Add chopped onion, sliced garlic cloves, sliced carrots, and sliced celery. Sweat just until soft. Move to side of pot and add the ground beef along with the fennel seeds, thyme flakes and red pepper flakes. When brown, mix in the veggies and tomato paste. Cook for about one minute or so. Now add the can of corn/okra/tomatoes, seasoned butter beans. Mix through. Finish by adding the veggie stock, beef granules and smoked paprika. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a slow simmer. Cover. Continue to cook for about 45 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the cream and mix through. Re-taste for seasonings. Serve with grated cheese on top.