I used to be such a DYI foodie and downright snob. Not now. I respect humble great tasting food from regional/church cookbooks with heart.
And, yes, those recipes use canned condensed soup. Jacqueline Heriteau wrote an encyclopedic “A Feast Of Soups” which was first published in 1981. It is still my go to book for soup inspiration. She devotes a couple of chapters to fast comfort soups in the 21st century. Well here we are in the 21st century, and Heriteau’s exquisite French comprehension of seasonings and herbs still play a vital role in her delicious spot on recipes. She also uses some canned soup in those fast and easy chapters. Long live A Feast Of Soups, a true classic!
The Beefed Up Stew recipe has been around for awhile with many modifications. It is economical and hearty and taught me not to be so damn haughty. A rustic bread for dipping and a green salad are all that are needed to complete a fulfilling meal.
Beefed Up Stew
Bake: 275 F for 4 hours. Try not to peek or stir until the end of baking. Turn the oven light on and just observe and smell!
2 lbs. beef stew meat, chunked
5 potatoes, chunked
5 carrots, chunked
1 celery stalk
1 medium onion
Canned or fresh mushrooms
1 can each: tomato and cream of mushroom soup, low sodium, if preferred
1 package Knorr Swiss cream of leek soup mix or 2 beef bouillon cubes
A dash of garlic, and try making a cheesecloth bouquet garni of thyme, savory,bay, marjoram and basil. If you have fresh herbs, the more, the merrier. If you do not have these herbs, make this anyway!
1 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
Dash of good red wine, optional
Bake in a slow oven, 250 F, for four hours. Don’t peek! Just drink some good red wine toward the last half hour and take heart knowing that this is a winner every time. Try to think of something chocolate to follow!
For purists: there any number of make your own recipes for condensed soups online. I just militantly think that good food tastes good. Period. That is why Anthony Bourdain hits the streets in foreign ports because that is where the true taste and action are for the local fare.
That is why MFK Fisher drank sherry while making cream of tomato soup from a can with cream. She had the right idea.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!